Reflections on a campaign: a lot of 'woulda, shoulda, coulda'.

opinionred 100x100By Marty Staz

October 25th, 2018



It seems like forever ago that I ventured into City Hall with my paperwork in hand, plunked down my hundred bucks and entered the Municipal Councillor’s race in our city. Having never done this before I will readily admit that I didn’t really have a grasp on what to do next. My nature has always been to “plan your work and then work your plan” but that wasn’t getting me anywhere since I couldn’t come up with a plan.

Fortunately we were still feeling the effects of very strange provincial election so it gave me time to gather my thoughts.

Side view - mid rise

Marty Staz reviewing a panel of development guidelines

It wasn’t long before I was able to see where I was headed. The issues, the challenges and the talking points all came together and as I started knocking on doors and meeting with people I could feel some engagement building.

I can say with complete honesty that I was in this race with total conviction. Unfortunately, I really don’t feel I could say the same for some of my competitors. A total of eleven candidates submitted their nomination forms. A quick scan of the election results will provide proof of what I mean. I think that $100 isn’t enough to prevent less than committed individuals from wanting to see their name in the public eye. All of this only leads to thoughts of what might have been had we only had the die hard candidates in this race.

This also brings me to another questionable practice that happened for the first time in Burlington. Online voting. Do we really need a seventeen day window to give everyone an opportunity to vote online? We have two days of advance polls so why don’t we have two days of online voting? Over two weeks is a lot of time to lose for a candidate new to the elections race trying to get their message out there. Who knows, maybe it was simply done to favour any incumbent candidates.

Another gripe for me is the number of people that actually got out to vote. In an election with a multitude of issues and the new opportunity to vote online we only got a measly 3% increase in voters from 2014. When I realized this my first reaction was, “those people that didn’t vote must be living in a bubble.” But the more I thought about it I think I was one of the ones living in the bubble. Sixty one per cent of our city don’t seem to be too concerned about what is going on.

A lot of this may sound like sour grapes but truly it is probably more of the “woulda, shoulda, coulda”. I fought hard and have no regrets at all. The 39% of the public that voted simply felt that there was someone else better for the job. To all of the new members of our Council I say congratulations and work hard for us.

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12 comments to Reflections on a campaign: a lot of ‘woulda, shoulda, coulda’.

  • Elle Woods

    I agree that having online voting for three weeks is too long. Why three weeks? We should be having debates and discussions right up to the deadline. Have it available during the early voting process and then on the day of to help those that can’t or won’t make it to the polls. I also received ZERO voting information from the City. No information on online voting, polling station, how to register. Could this be part of the low turnout? There were too many candidates in Ward 1. Would some of them have pulled out if given the chance if advance polling information had been released? I don’t hear sour grapes at all. I hear someone who is going to stay involved and is questioning a better voting process and those are the sort of leaders I want in Burlington. There are a lot of us who are very disappointed you didn’t win Marty.

  • Larry

    WOW………This article reeks of sour grapes, Why is a 17 day window for online voting such a bad thing? Last I checked, this IS the 21st century. Bottom line, Galbraith, who actually knocked on my door, won with 21% of the vote, I saw the Staz crew in their white, and orange shirts on the other side of my street, never heard a knock on my door………..not even a candidate flyer…………..why should I Have to search a candidates makeshift website to get their views………….For Mayor, Marianne Meed Ward even knocked on my door………….the other 3,,,,,,,,,,,,ppffftttttttt. You want it? PUT IN THE FFORT, AND EARN IT.

  • Pam Casey

    To increase voter turnout, i would like to suggest that the data for the voter’s list come from CRA. Everyone SHOULD file taxes and if the voter’s list was made from that, then everyone should receive a voter’s card. And the cards should be mailed out much earlier than they are. If everyone received voter’s card, then this should help to increase voter turnout.

  • D Walker

    I don’t agree regarding the $100.00 comment. Ultimately, running a campaign even to become councillor is quite expensive. Building a website can be inexpensive if you know what you’re doing or know someone else who does, but getting proper signage, flyers, etc. is not cheap. If we want to make democracy accessible and have the largest variety of candidates running (from a variety of socio-economic, educational, and occupational backgrounds), then the dollar value tied into running should be inexpensive.

    I don’t disagree that Ward 1 had too many candidates running, but I’m not sure how to solve this. Personally, I’m sad that Marty did not become our Ward 1 councillor, but I admire how many people stuck their necks out there because they care about Ward 1. I wish there were a way to measure commitment to the job and area in a way besides money.

    Side note: I agree with Louise that you should have to live in the Ward you plan to represent.

  • rob n

    What is wrong with a 17 day online voting period? Some people travel and are out of the country for extended periods (ie I was gone for over 4 weeks). I also rarely pick up my mail when I am home (super mailbox), which is where and how the Electorate notice from the City is sent that tells you where and how you can vote. To have the extended time frame to vote from my home at my convenience is great.

    If I had to go to the voting station, I doubt I would, not with the ability to vote online. Life is better spent out of a queue.

    If I had a 2 day window to vote, I may not vote. The beaches of Spain in October are much more inviting than reviewing candidates websites and their debates. Assuming I even got the Electorate notice.

    I’d like to hear why 17 days is too long. This statement makes no sense to me: “Over two weeks is a lot of time to lose for a candidate new to the elections race trying to get their message out there.”

    If 17 days is too long to get your message out, you should have started campaigning 2 or 3 years prior to build your name and base in the community. That’s what the winners did, at a minimum (at least in the Mayoral race, Ward 2, Ward 6)

  • Brian Jones

    I agree with you Marty. Seventeen days of on line vote is far to many. I believe in. a 2 day window also and much closer to advance poll and voting day. If online is necessary,,
    seeems this electronic world is the rule of use. To the candidates, that last moment of door knocking, support group outings are the last push. So why not have online the same 2 days as advance.. There are so many ways of searching the cansidates to educate his/her platform. There is no reason to indicate ” I voted online. I didn’t know who to vote for so i just picked one”
    Voter response? Still poor especially with the contentious subjects this city has.
    And Joe, you are correct!

  • Pat Bower

    We regret your loss.
    Big time.
    You would have represented us in Aldershot in a very positive way.

  • joe gaetan

    Agree the time-line for online voting needs to be adjusted. While we are at it, all third party advertiser details should be available to constituents. The City Clerk should also have the power to issue a cease and desist order where egregious acts are identified. Calling a candidate a liar would be a good place to start.

  • Penny

    Marty, I agree, I would have thought that more people would have voted. I have come to realize that most residents find city issues difficult to understand. What does an official plan mean to the average resident? How will it affect them? Politicians don’t do a very good job of explaining in layman’s terms just what is happening. Why would I vote if I really don’t understand the issues and if 11 people are running in my ward. Who do I vote for and what criteria would I use to make this decision?

    If council wants more people engaged then they have to make them feel that they can be part of finding the solution. In a current affairs class that I attend someone suggested that the City needs to perhaps hire a PR Firm to market themselves to the residents on what is happening in Burlington – all of Burlington. Make politics interesting.

  • Stephen White

    The point about the $100 registration cuts two ways. On one hand, you want a registration fee that promotes serious candidates and dissuades people from running as a joke, but on the other hand you don’t want it to serve as a significant deterrent that precludes credible people running. That being said, the number of candidates running in Ward 1 was truly dysfunctional. With so many people competing it became very difficult for candidates to distinguish themselves. Being able to get their message across wasn’t helped by only a handful of candidate meetings, limited coverage in the Burlington Post, and Cogeco’s limited broadcasts.

    With such a long period for online voting I would have thought the participation rate would have been well north of 39%. Clearly, there was activity on social media, but how influential it was in impacting voters’ behaviour and persuading people to actually vote is unclear. As with many things, there are people who are very ardent, passionate and well-informed in their views, but regrettably, a lot who just talk and don’t act.

  • Louise F.

    Unlike other candidates, I don’t hear sour grapes, just valid points.
    I thought the same thing with online voting. Opening it up 3 weeks before election day is just too early. That leaves a ton of time for candidates to still be out there canvassing. I changed my mind 3 times this month about my vote for mayor.
    With so many issues in Burlington right now and a hotly contested mayoral race, voter turnout should have been much higher. I don’t want to see any non-voters complaining down the road.
    I agree, the filing fee needs to be a larger amount. $100.00 is nothing.
    Personally, I feel like the Election Act should be changed that you are required to live in the Ward in which you run. Why on earth wouldn’t a candidate want to represent their neighbourhood?

  • Bev

    Marty: You ran a good CLEAN campaign and I am so sorry that you didn’t win. The residents of Ward 1 really didn’t appreciate a good solid hard-working person. I didn’t appreciate the winner stating “I live in the area”. Does that really matter? To the winner I hope you will work as hard as Marty would have if he had been elected. Just think of the wonderful people you met and spoke to during your campaign. The experience you have gained will certainly be of benefit to you in your next campaign. We are really proud of you.