So what’s it like running for municipal council for the very first time? To find out, I cornered Lynn Valley’s John Gilmour in Delany’s and convinced him to take a break from pressing the flesh and handing out election brochures.
We found a corner table and he told me what his life’s been like ever since he stepped down as president of the Lynn Valley Community Association and threw his hat into the ring for North Van District council.
In some ways, this is nothing new for John – he grew up at the knee of mother Sheila Gilmour, a widely accomplished community volunteer in her own right, and John has spent many of his recent years helping usher events such as ValleyFest 2010, Lynn Valley Days, and community-planning workshops into our neighbourhood.
But North Vancouver District is a big place, and during his campaign John has learned the importance of having a team. “I have to really rely on them,” he said over ginger peppermint green tea (he’s currently abstaining from sugar and caffeine in a bid to keep his immune system strong in the lead-up to the election), “I just can’t be everywhere myself.”
Which is too bad, because John clearly enjoys meeting new people. He spends a lot of time in Delany’s North Vancouver locations, talking to people about their thoughts on civic issues, and is never happier than when he’s out knocking on doors. He’s been pleasantly surprised by the almost universally positive reception he’s received from strangers.
John thinks running for municipal office is actually quite welcoming to newcomers like him. There is no fee to run, and you need only two people to nominate you to get yourself on the ballot.
The big hurdle, of course, is unseating an incumbent. In municipal politics especially, voters often cast a ballot based solely on name recognition, despite not knowing a thing about that councillor’s views or track record. (Remember, you don’t HAVE to tick off six names on the ballot … if there are only one or two people you are familiar with and want to support, you are able to mark off their names only and leave the rest blank.)
But John does have a leg up in another area. Thanks to a random draw, his name will be at the top of the ballot, an advantage that is said to boost one’s tally by as much as five per cent.
But here at LynnValleyLife, we’re hoping citizens won’t be voting by name recognition or ballot position, but a good understanding of the candidates and their views on local issues.
Information about all-candidates’ meetings and advance polls can be found on the municipal website here: http://www.dnv.org/article.asp?c=764, and John will be holding a casual meet-and-greet at the Lynn Valley Delany’s Tuesday night (the 15th) from 7 to 8:30 p.m. You can learn more about his views on helping residents live, work, play and retire all within their North Vancouver town centres, and check out his website www.vote4John.net for more information.
Running a campaign, whether for the first time or the fourteenth, takes a big investment of time and resources. Hats off to all the candidates, especially the new kids on the block.