Promote thyself, says Yellowknifer editor

by James O'Connor - September 6, 2018

If a tree falls in a forest, does anyone hear it?

Nalini Naidoo, the city's director of planning and development, makes a presentation at Tuesday's Municipal Services Committee meeting. Columnist James O'Connor managed to inadvertently interrupt her as she began, as he details below. James O'Connor/NNSL photo
Nalini Naidoo, the city’s director of planning and development, makes a presentation at Tuesday’s Municipal Services Committee meeting. Columnist James O’Connor managed to inadvertently interrupt her as she began, as he details below.
James O’Connor/NNSL photo

Or, how about if someone runs for public office, but keeps it a secret, does he or she get any votes?

I’d say the answer to both those questions is a resounding, no.

We are a small city of around 20,000 people but you are still going to need some semblance of a campaign to attract attention. In the 2015 election, the eighth-place councillor to squeak in did so with 2,441 votes. The largest vote-getter for councillor nabbed 3,837 votes. Mark Heyck needed 4,479 folks to mark their X for him to win the mayor’s chair.

So, exactly how are you going to convince at least 2,400 people to get out and vote for you?

It would be quite odd – and pretty much a waste of time – for someone to base their entire election campaign on a Facebook page and the good cheer of supportive family and friends.

There will be some free publicity for all candidates from local media. But that can’t be counted on. And let’s say you make a fool out of yourself at a debate, that could be the only free media you receive. Not very flattering.

At Yellowknifer, we will offer each candidate the opportunity to come to our offices and record a five-minute video, stating their vision and outlining their policy platform. We will also be sending out questionaires related to the top issues facing the city. The videos will be posted to NNSL.com on our election webpage.

For the rest of the news coverage, you will either have to attract our attention, or wait for us to contact you for for reaction to other candidates’ announcements. And if it is difficult to get a hold of you, you might not make it into the stories of the day.

Very few aspiring councillors or wanna-be mayors have actually made a formal announcement of their intention to run.

Here’s a way to optimize publicity with this media outlet – and likely others in the city.

If you decided to announce your intention to seek office, put together some form of news release – it doesn’t have to be fancy – and do some legwork to determine the correct email addresses of city newsrooms. For Yellowknifer, please use: editorial@nnsl.com.

Send that out on the same day you post to Facebook, Twitter, etc. (The hashtag apparently being used for this tilt is #YkVotes2018.) You should also include a clear head and shoulders photo, although Yellowknifer will likely want to shoot our own at some point. Include a cell phone number and email address which you can be reached at.

Some other opportunities for exposure during your campaign include: a campaign launch, hammering in your first set of campaign signs and your official campaign launch event (if you are doing one).

Then send out more media notices when you want to announce all or part of your policy platform, if you are doing that as part of a photo-op or not. You should also send us electronic copies of your campaign materials, such as brochures.

You can also let us know when you plan to do some serious door-knocking, with supporters in tow.

While I certainly can’t guarantee any of your efforts will trigger a reporter being assigned in response, if you don’t do anything, you won’t get anything.

Good luck to all. Let’s show the country that democracy is alive and well in Yellowknife!

BEFORE I GO:

The Human Rights Act requires public facilities and services be provided to residents in a non‐discriminatory manner.

The City of Yellowknife just spent $55,000 on an extensive accessibility audit on its facilities, conducted by SPH Planning and Consulting and Dillon Consulting. For the city to live up to its vision statement of providing “a welcoming, inclusive, vibrant and family‐oriented,” it will cost $5 million to complete all of the work detailed in the consultants’ report.

I believe I have identified a city asset that leaves, umm, svelte-challenged people feeling discriminated against that I didn’t see mentioned in the report.

While simply conducting my journalistic duties on behalf of this newspaper in the public gallery in council chambers at Tuesday’s Municipal Services Committee meeting, the plastic and metal chair I was sitting in disintegrated below me, sending me crashing to the ground just as the meeting started.

Yes, that really happened. The meeting snapped to a halt, all eyes on me.

People rushed to help me up and remove the twisted wreckage.

SAO Sheila Bassi-Kellett called over to me in a concerned and reassuring tone, “James, are you alright?”

Being a professional, I gathered myself and resumed my work after offering some blithe quips to lighten up the room.

But some good needs to come from this public shaming!

Not all of us can be of average height with a beach-ready bod.

Sure, I could take this as a hint from above to lose some darn weight – at 6 foot 4 and 260 pounds, my body mass index is a so-called “obese” 31.6 – but perhaps I want to continue my drive-thru diet. So I say the community must adjust to my excess!

I demand the city spend some of that $5 million needed to make the city perfectly accessible and buy some solid, sturdy chairs for the public gallery. Preferably a hard wood, or welded steel to safely hold my large and in charge bod. Or perhaps a comfy king-sized recliner.

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