September is approaching and campaigns are picking up the pace. Candidates are starting to roll out their platforms. Pressure groups are lining up debates and releasing platforms of their own. Before we know it, election signs will start popping up… although perhaps not as many we might expect.
Larry O’Brien’s campaign says that lawn signs are “old school and expensive”. He’s opting for billboards instead. Clive Doucet’s campaign is eschewing the tradition for environmental reasons. It’s unclear whether this includes signs on public property (which were much more effective a campaign tool for O’Brien in the last campaign, as his lawn sign count was minimal). But Alex Cullen’s website still has a link to order a lawn sign, and Jim Watson keeps announcing his daily sign request count on Twitter, so they won’t be jumping on the no-sign bandwagon.
Signs can be important to a campaign for a few reasons – as a visible indication of individual support, they can show momentum. They can increase a candidate’s name recognition – although one might argue that most folks already recognize the names of the four main candidates. On the other hand, signs are labour-intensive, expensive and not particularly environmentally-friendly. I suspect that Larry O’Brien’s campaign did a cost-benefit analysis and determined that the hassle of an individual lawn sign campaign wasn’t worth it, and that the advantage of incumbency can make up for any votes he might miss by avoiding lawn signs. While Jim Watson has been framing his campaign as hard-working, organized and rooted in the traditional knocking-on-doors-and-attending-community-suppers approach, O’Brien will be more focused on the “air war” – CFRA, media coverage, paid ads. He’ll have a ground campaign, but I’m betting it will be minimal.
O’Brien’s media on the sign issue included another little nugget – a reference to having $400,000 to spend. This is an interesting bit of chest-thumping, as it follows on the heels of reports that Alex Cullen has not had a great deal of fundraising success and may drop out of the race in September. If he does, he may re-enter the race for Bay Ward, making an already-interesting race even more interesting.
Speaking of interesting, here’s a candidate to watch: Cleo McMartin has announced her candidacy for Mayor. What sets her apart from others who are gunning for the Mayor’s chair? Judge for yourself:
Cleo has yet to release her platform, although she promises to do so in the near future. Her Facebook page makes reference to Jane Jacobs and identifies urban green space, public art and cycling as priorities, so there should be plenty there to interest Spacing readers. Humour or no, she already shows more social media savvy than most Mayoral candidates (in some cases, a lot more). Dare I say she may be nipping at their heels?
photo by Nam Lamore