Politicians’ stories, experience inspire others at Run Jane Run
DON CROSBY/CORRESPONDENT WITH FILES FROM ZOE KESSLER
Organizers of a municipal campaign school for women are pleased with participation over the weekend.
Pat Farrar, chair of the workshop, said the event had exceeded expectations.
“The quality of the speakers and the information people have been given, I think one of the best things I attended for a long time,” she said.
The event was held in Chesley on Saturday, Nov. 4 with about 25 women in attendance.
The keynote speaker was Brenda Halloran.
Elected mayor of Waterloo in 2006, she led the city through one of its most innovative periods, winning the intelligent community award in 2007 and IBM’s Smarter City Challenge in 2012.
Halloran stressed the seriousness of the decision to run for municipal office and the effects on family and personal life.
“There are a lot of decisions to be made and you make them based on your own information, listening and learning you have to know all of the ins and outs before you make that decision,” she said.
Halloran said if a woman is passionate about her community she should seriously consider getting involved and stressed the importance of bringing a female perspective to the council table.
“If you are really passionate about your community and see things you don’t like happening, then you should think about stepping up and getting involved,” she said.
“We do need 50 per cent representation of women on council, because we are half the community.”
Among the guest speakers was Judy Gay, a member of the “women’s council” in London, headed up by Jane Bigelow, the first woman to serve as mayor in that city.
Closer to home she served on Georgian Bluffs council where she chaired the township finance committee and was a member of the Georgian Bluffs environmental committee. She also served on the boards of Grey Sauble Conservation Authority and Owen Sound and North Grey Union Public Library.
She presented tips on how to run an effective campaign, which included attending council and other public committees and meetings to become a more familiar public face. She also touched on the use of signs and brochures in a campaign and the importance of going door to door.
Andrea Stenberg stressed the importance of social media in a modern day campaign. Stenberg is a social media marketing consultant who helps baby boomer entrepreneurs navigate a crowded market and position themselves as experts and get clients to contact them using Linkedin, Facebook and other online marketing tools.
In her presentation she drew heavily on the successes of Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi and his use of social media. She noted a recent change in the use of social media that includes use of video, something that can easily be done using a cellphone.
She said Nenshi was particularly successful at getting the 18- to 29-year-old demographic involved.
Anne Finlay-Stewart discussed ways of making the traditional work in a campaign.
Finlay-Stewart wrote a column for the Sun Times, then went on to become a writer for Owen Sound Hub.org, which she later bought. A campaign manager in the days before social media, she learned the joys and pitfalls of working the mainstream media.
She stressed the importance of using mainstream media through writing letters to the editor. She also stressed the importance of getting publicity by attending council meetings. Get on local phone-in shows and cable network programs and attend events when invited, she said.
The day ended with a panel discussion, along with guests education trustee Jim Dawson and Kimberley Love.
Several women who attended the workshop said the information provided by the speakers helped them firm up their plans to get more involved politically.
Ann Marie Hadcock of South Bruce Peninsula said she plans to run in the upcoming municipal election.
“I love politics,” Hadcock said in a telephone interview.
Before now, she said, she was unsure about whether or not she had the skills to get into politics.
“I’ve had people tell me you shouldn’t do a lot of things; I think women are often underestimated.”
Hadcock said the life stories and anecdotes shared by the presenters at Run Jane Run were the most valuable element of the seminar, especially Halloran’s story.
“She’s a remarkable woman,” Hadcock said.
Hadcock said Halloran’s story of overcoming the adversity of poverty, divorce and taking on city hall – which led Halloran to run for politics – was particularly inspiring.
On a practical level, Hadcock said, she was reminded that municipal politics is non-partisan – so it’s important not to choose signs in blue or orange, for example.
Issues like how to find a campaign manager – make sure it’s someone you really trust and who’s super-organized, Hadcock said – and how to work with local media were also important.
“I follow politics religiously,” she said, but this would be her first time running for office.
“I really like Mayor Jackson; I think she’s doing a great job. She was an influence on my decision to run,” she said, adding, “I had to get up the nerve to do this.”
Hadcock feels she’s at the right age (38) with enough Ann Marie Hadcock, of South Bruce Peninsula, at the Run Jane Run seminar in Chesley, Nov. 4. life and business experience under her belt to take the plunge.
“I have enough confidence now. I think I’d be a good decision maker.”
Hadcock, who is from the area, moved away to study but returned several years ago where she now lives and has an art studio in Oliphant.
“I can see some areas where we can make things better,” she said, especially in being able to keep youth in the area and through arts and culture – which ultimately leads to economic development, she said.
Vicki McKague of South Bruce also said she is pretty determined to run for council.
“I have seen our town have challenges with growth and development and I would like to think that I could possibly make a change for the better,” she said.
Andrea Matrosovs of The Blue Mountains ran in the 2006 municipal election but was defeated. Later she was nominated as the federal Liberal candidate for Simcoe Grey in 2007. She was defeated by Helena Guergis.
“At this point I want to be engaged in, active in, the next upcoming election campaign whether it’s my own campaign or supporting another woman,” she said.
Long time Southgate resident Carol Watson said she is giving careful consideration to running for deputy-mayor in the upcoming election.
“It’s not official until nomination papers are filed,” she stressed.
Carol Merton of Owen Sound said after attending the workshop she has been encouraged to run for Owen Sound council.
“I’m really seriously thinking about it now,” she said.