What does it take to successfully win a seat in this room? Current, new and past city councilors chime in. Mirror File Photo

What does it take to successfully win a seat in this room? Current, new and past city councilors chime in. Mirror File Photo

So you want to run for a Vancouver Island city council?

New, current and past city councilors chime in on what it takes to win a municipal election

Angry at the state of local government in your community? Your chance to do something about it is only about about 18 months away.

And if there is an idea germinating in the back of your mind that you might want to add your name to the ballot in the 2022 civic elections, well, there is no time like the present to start doing your homework.

Sean Smyth won a seat on Campbell River council in the recent byelection, and he thinks the key to his victory was outreach.

“I went in to all the businesses I could find that were set up for COVID-ness and able to have people just walk in, and just had a chat with the owners,” Smyth says. “A lot of them said that’s never happened before, and I really got to learn more about what the concerns in town are, and then I focused my campaign around those concerns.”

RELATED: Capital Regional District director wants election spending increased

RELATED: Follow the money: presenting what Greater Victoria is paying its top city officials

Smith will fill the seat vacated by Michele Babchuk when she was elected to the provincial legislature, Babchuks thinks the most important thing for candidates to do is be passionate about being involved, and be prepared for the breadth of what the job entails.

“Most people become politically active because there’s a single issue that has spurred them there,” Babchuk says. “But once you get into that stream, it becomes very apparent very quickly that you’re part of a team. You’re one voice of five, or one voice of seven, or whatever that dynamic looks like. I think most people don’t have an idea about the scope of things before they get there.”

Babchuk herself got into politics by running for school trustee, upset over school closures in the district.

“I was single-issue myself back in the day,” she admits. “But once you get on the board and realize there’s a bunch of other issues the board is dealing with and you’re working with a team and figuring out what your spot on that team is and how that team can work together, successful elected people learn how to do that.”

Campbell River Mayor Andy Adams vividly remembers his journey into civil service, which began by joining the city’s development advisory committee. Joining a committee or commission, he thinks, is a great way for potential candidates to familiarize themselves with how things operate at City Hall.

“I didn’t know what I was getting myself into,” Adams says, “but I showed up at City Hall and was surrounded by all of the movers and shakers of the development industry … and it was a really, really good experience in how to get orientated to what City Hall is and how it operates – or as some people like to say, doesn’t operate.”

Adams also laments, in some ways, that social media has become the main way candidates get the word out about themselves these days, saying it’s best to meet people face-to-face and have a conversation, rather than just putting your thoughts out into the world and hoping they reach people.

“There used to be a lot more meeting people,” Adams says. “Whether it was individually or in small groups or in neighbourhood coffee conversations, it was about finding out what was important to people. You really got a personal one-on-one connection and could hear people’s passion.

“I don’t think you get that in today’s environment in social media. It used to be about getting that face-to-face, where you could look people in the eye and they could look you in the eye and go away and make a decision. That doesn’t happen now. Now it feels much more like a Facebook and Twitter popularity contest.”

Both Adams and Babchuk have the same advice for anyone who was unsucessful last time around: Have another go at it.

“In just 18 months there’s another opportunity,” Adams says. “With the next general election, you’ll have gotten some exposure, you’ve gotten some experience in being able to articulate what your position is … so no matter what the result is, don’t take it as a loss, take it as a learning experience.”

“The reality is that most people don’t get in on their first try,” Babchuk agrees, “and it’s a bit of a commitment to wrap your head around that and accept that if I don’t win this time, yes, I’m going to try again. If you’re going to go through the effort of doing up signs and putting together teams to work on your behalf, you’re already activated, and if you’re not successful the first time, give it another shot.

“Because they now have the experience and know what they’re doing in terms of running in an election, it would be a real waste to see them try once and give up.”

She also thinks that people who want to make a difference take a look around at other ways they can be of service to the public. After all, there are all kinds of boards and agencies that have an impact on the way things are run and direction a community takes.

“I suggest for people not just look at council, but if there are other interests that they have, there are other positions that are fantastic and they’re all very well needed in our community,” Babchuck says.

“I’ve obviously been in the school trustee role, and a city council role and a regional district role and now in my current position (MLA) and each one of those has really given me a world of experience. So I suggest for people not just look at council, but if there are other interests that they have, there are other positions that are fantastic and they’re all very well needed in our community.”

For more news from Vancouver Island and beyond delivered daily into your inbox, please click here.



miked@campbellrivermirror.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Campbell RiverMunicipal election

Just Posted

First responders on scene at Qwam Qwum Stuwixwulh School south of Nanaimo on Thursday afternoon. (Karl Yu/The News Bulletin)
One child airlifted after quad accident at Nanaimo district school

First responders called to Qwam Qwum Stuwixwulh School at around 3:30 p.m.

B.C. Centre for Disease Control maps showing new COVID-19 cases by local health area for the week of April 4-10. (BCCDC image)
Parksville-Qualicum passes Nanaimo in new COVID-19 cases

B.C. Centre for Disease Control reports 65 new cases in Oceanside health area April 4-10

A nearly four-hour standoff at an apartment complex on Cowichan Lake Road in Duncan ended peacefully on Wednesday, April 14. (Kevin Rothbauer/Citizen)
Police standoff at Duncan apartment ends peacefully

Officers surround building as homeowner held in apartment for nearly four hours by adult son

Pacific Institution in Abbotsford. (Black Press Media file photo)
Inmate with ties to Victoria dies in Abbotsford institution

Brodie Bingley, who was sentenced for aggravated assault in Maple Ridge died April 13

Norm Scott, president of Royal Canadian Legion Branch # 91, is disappointed the Legion does not qualify for COVID financial assistance from the provincial government. (Black Press Media file photo)
B.C.’s pandemic aid package passing Legion branches by

Federal non-profit status stymies provincial assistance eligibility

A woman wears a protective face covering to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 as she walks past the emergency entrance of Vancouver General Hospital in Vancouver, B.C., Friday, April 9, 2021. COVID-19 cases have been on a steady increase in the province of British Columbia over the past week. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Top doctor warns B.C.’s daily cases could reach 3,000 as COVID hospitalizations surge

There are more than 400 people in hospital, with 125 of them in ICU

The Baynes Sound Connector leaves Denman Island en route to Buckley Bay. Photo by Erin Haluschak
Baynes Sound Connector undergoing upgrades

The MV Quinitsa is providing service between Buckley Bay and Denman Island

The father of Aaliyah Rosa planted a tree and laid a plaque in her memory in 2018. (Langley Advance Times files)
Final witness will extend Langley child murder trial into May or June

Lengthy trial began last autumn with COVID and other factors forcing it to take longer than expected

The corner of 96th Avenue and Glover Road in Fort Langley now has traffic signals, and new “touchless” signal activation buttons. (Matthew Claxton/Langley Advance Times)
Busy Fort Langley intersection gets ‘touchless’ crosswalk signals

The new traffic light started operation in April

A crossing guard stops traffic as students wearing face masks to curb the spread of COVID-19 arrive at Ecole Woodward Hill Elementary School, in Surrey, B.C., on Tuesday, February 23, 2021. A number of schools in the Fraser Health region, including Woodward Hill, have reported cases of the B.1.7.7 COVID-19 variant first detected in the U.K. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
COVID-infected students in Lower Mainland schools transmitting to 1 to 2 others: data

Eight to 13 per cent of COVID cases among students in the Lower Mainland were acquired in schools, B.C. says

Latest modelling by public health shows cases generated by COVID-19 infections into places where it can spread quickly. (B.C. Centre for Disease Control)
Industrial sites, pubs, restaurants driving COVID-19 spread in B.C.

Infection risk higher in offices, retail, warehouses, farms

Quatse, the abandoned sea otter pup who was rescued in Port Hardy. (Marine Mammal Rescue Centre photo)
Quatse the sea otter pup continues to recover in treatment

Quatse’s last “pupdate” was on March 31, where it was noted she is “doing well and gaining weight.”

Hwy. 4 was shut down in both directions for 10 hours on March 23 as a rock bluff was blasted as part of Kennedy Hill’s ongoing construction. Commuters can expect five more 10 hour closures on five consecutive Wednesdays beginning April 28. (Photo courtesy of Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure)
Five 10-hour Pacific Rim highway closures planned in the next 6 weeks

Closures needed for rock blasting as part of the Kennedy Hill Safety Improvement project.

Most Read