Timing is everything

Municipal politicians are a rare breed. They are accessible, relatable and visible — much like us.

Municipal politicians are a rare breed. They are accessible, relatable and visible — much like us.

They can be seen grocery shopping, walking the dog, out with family and generally engaging in community life.  And while they and would-be political contenders have the benefit of being closer to the electorate than most other politicians, that doesn’t mean they should engage in premature public campaigns.

No, they don’t have legions of advisors to consult or the finances to contract polling companies for the remotest whiff of public opinion. However, we don’t think that should mean abandoning the basic principles of good campaigning. What we mean is, in our non-slate system where each candidate represents their own political views rather than a party’s and as such has a limited means to cut through all the other noise it is prudent to make political pronouncements (such as I am running…) when and where the majority of voters are paying attention.

It’s strange that two mayoral candidates (seasoned politicians in their own right) for the upcoming Nov. 19 municipal election would announce their intent to run heading into the laziest and haziest days of summer. (It should be noted that the sitting mayor announced her intent last year). These announcements are being made months before paperwork must be filed and while the public’s primary focus is on how they can maximize the summer months that involve enjoying the outdoors without actually being outdoors  — in all this rain.  If the public is thinking politics at all, it’s the HST.

Given what’s already transpired in 2011 with a federal election, two provincial leadership races, and the upcoming referendum we think candidates should be cognizant of the electorate’s tolerance for long-campaigning politicians and their promises. Campaigns occur within a prescribed period and politicians have avoided calling an election or running a campaign through any holiday period whether it be Christmas or during the summer because the voters simply aren’t paying attention.

We caution candidates that in a world of competing messages holding the public’s attention is neither something that can nor should be squandered and if so, done so at one’s peril.