Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Speaking of tech: One More Thing:

One more thing for the moment: I had a post back in June predicting the next iPhone. I missed that they would keep the RAM the same (512MB) and that they wouldn't support VoRA. other than that? Nailed it. Even said it would be probably called the iPhone 4S.

I am patting myself on the back in congratulations now.

Anatomy of a (successful) campaign

So as those of you who have followed me through any other media (Twitter, Facebook, my website, or local print/online news) know by now, the election is over and I won my race - the vote was 466-288 in my favor and I will be taking office on January second. I've gotten a lot more local attention than I really expected with the win, and I've used all the other places I post to thank my wife, Matt Veno, and all the other people who helped me. I thought here in longer form I could discuss the dynamics of the race and also why I believe it is we won. This isn't an all-purpose blueprint for local politics, but it worked here.

I think most would-be politicians wouldn't necessarily share most of this, but I'm trying hard to do things a little differently. I want to be as transparent as possible (of course I'm not going to share things told to me in confidence), and help people understand how I'll work, and why I'm voting the way I will. This, to  me, is part of that process. Also of note, though: When you are an actual in-office politician, there are legal and other reasons for being careful about what you say in print and online. I'll still be maintaining this blog, but I'll likely be posting pretty rarely and sticking to non-political subjects. Not that I write a lot of political and/or local issue stuff here, but I'll be doing even less of that and mainly sticking to things like sports and tech.

I also haven't been a major poster on Patch, but I've participated in some issue discussions as a candidate that I won't be able to do as an elected official. I haven't posted on Salemweb in about 6 years, but I won't be starting now... My Facebook page will still be a place to keep people informed, but mainly targeted to residents of the ward I'll be representing. A lot of city officials have some form or another of electronic presence, but I think I'm pretty much the first to use it so heavily. So there's going to be a period of finding a balance. Don't expect any postmortems of Council meetings here, though.

About the race itself - Councillor Ronan (my opponent) is a good person - and I actually like him, but in office he was much more conservative than I think most of the ward expected from him based on his pre-election talk two years ago. There's plenty of places online where you can look up specific policy issues over the last two years, but I believe that voting away from the ward's interests opened up an opportunity to challenge (it is what galvanized me - before this June I had no interest at all in getting into politics). Similar things happened in Ward 3, and there was also a successful challenge there.

The next factor was our campaign strategy. Our early effort was to get support from families we knew were aligned with us politically. We also tried to place as many signs early as possible. We started in early August with stickers and signs - at times it seemed like our house was full of them but over the four months of the campaign we placed about fifty signs and got almost a hundred stickers on cars. Lawn signs and stickers don't move many voters. What they do is solidify supporters psychologically (after all, they care enough to display support in public) and they also help you establish a level of credibility to the rest of the voters. Without signs you're an unknown. We had signs out over a month before our opponent, and I believe that provided a show of strength early. We also got crucial early support from Councillor (at large) Furey, who knew me well enough to expect the sort of change on the council he was hoping to see.

We also obtained the registered voter list from the city and put it into a spreadsheet for analysis and into a Filemaker database for reporting. That was roughly 3200 voters. We also bought the list of voters that came out in 2009 to the last municipal election. That list was our bible. 2009 had only about 830 voters show up. They were likeliest to show this year as well, assuming they were still living in the ward (most were). And we had a very good turnout among that group, despite not having a mayoral race on the ballot this year. So our strategy was to target the heck out of the 830, make sure I met as many of them as possible, and got exposed to them as much as we could. Then came the hard work. I didn't ignore the other 2370 voters entirely, but I didn't go out of my way to target them - they weren't likely to vote and most didn't.

I walked to almost every door of the 830, and met a good number of them in person. When they weren't home, I generally left a hand-written note on my palm card and left it in their mail slot or door. I also left cards with neighbors who were available to talk to, or displayed a sign for another citywide candidate - even if they weren't on my 830 it meant they were interested this year. We printed well over a thousand cards and there's only a handful left in my house. I finished door-to-door last Sunday, doing it from August onwards and pretty much only taking the Columbus Day holiday off to go on a fishing trip with my son.

We also sent out a mailing of a letter that former Councillor Matt Veno (who was the campaign head along with my wife) wrote along with a copy of my card. This was sent to about 500 households (the 830 - removing hard supporters of mine and my opponent's, and accounting for homes with multiple voters) on Halloween weekend. We wanted to make sure it was seen and the closer to election time, the better. That helped us move the needle.

A few days later, in the middle of the final week, we then followed up by dropping (by hand) a letter I'd written myself introducing me and asking for support. My wife and a number of our friends delivered them to the 830 over a 3-day period. We also guessed that if the Salem News provided any endorsement at all, it would be of me. So we designed a 4-up postcard that we could drop it into if that happened (in the hope it would be something we could use). When it did, we had the text pasted into the postcard by 9AM Friday, and we printed and hand-cut over 800 postcards Friday into Sunday that were delivered right up to Monday morning - again, Jane and all our friends did the delivery by hand. I did all the printing/cutting.

Besides this, we had several friends and supporters making phone calls on my behalf to their friends and neighbors. We had meet and greet events in each neighborhood of the ward over the four months - the last one was the Sunday before the election. Our initial fundraiser was in early August. That was a big success because a lot of people came who needed to know that we were credible. The biggest issue with it, though, was that the cost there was a lot higher than we'd anticipated so we only came out a little bit ahead. That put us in an early fundraising hole but we were able to keep costs down otherwise.

Finally, the electronic portion of the race mattered as well. I used my Twitter account (@joshturiel) as a tool to communicate with supporters and to help find them. I set up a personal Facebook page (I'd avoided it until this year - my wife is the big Facebook user in the family) and then used it to create a campaign page. That proved to be an effective way to help get even information, photos, and even video out to people in the ward and around Salem. Lastly, I also set up an email list of all the people who gave me their addresses - around 50 so far. We sent out a few email list updates during the campaign and it helped with support.

I met people during the campaign that I hadn't known before at all, and some that I only had known online. It was really one of the most rewarding experiences I'd ever had, and I surprised myself by enjoying the in-person aspect of it so much. Election Day was nerve-wracking even though we were fairly confident by then. The video of me on Patch that night? Yep, I was exhausted. Now the hard part begins.

It's a heck of a challenge to serve in elected office. Even the people I have political issues with are people I respect for taking on the responsibility. Now I get a turn at it, and I hope I can do my city and my ward proud.

Tuesday, November 01, 2011

Education of a candidate - Final Week

As I write this blog entry, there's exactly one week remaining in the campaign. Election Day is on November 8th. We've survived another Halloween season here in Salem, the police logs are still being tabulated but as far as crowds go, the nor'easter on Saturday night combined with a non-weekend Halloween to lower crowds a little on the final weekend. Still busy, but not as insane as the last few years have been. Not as good for the tourist-orinted businesses but better for a lot of the residents.

David's soccer team, by the way, is 5-1-1 going into the final week of the season. They had a scoreless tie as the storm got started this Saturday.

In campaign news, the buzz I'm getting back from people is good. We wound up having to print more signs and palm cards. I made some round button-sized stickers that people have been wearing around town - a ton of kids and parents wore them during the Halloween parade earlier in October. That was pretty cool. I've gotten out to do door-to-door campaigning at least 1-2 times per week, including a stint yesterday. We also did campaigning during trick-or-treating time last night. By about 9 when we finally shut the lights out, it was only our house and my opponent's that were still handing out candy. Kind of a perverse Halloween arms race.

During the past month plus, I've had my own debate (in September - still available at SATV's website), been to the main At-Large debate, traveled to Hull on the wind turbine fact-finding trip, met with at least 400 people between events and door knocking, and held 3 meet & greet events. Running for office may be more work than serving in office!

More seriously, I've enjoyed it a lot more than I ever thought I would have. I'm not the sort of person who normally revels in going out and mingling with rooms full of people, or knocking on the door of a stranger. The first few times are hard. Then it gets easier - and after a few more times you start enjoying the interaction. I've met people I normally never would have known existed, and it's turned out to be one of the highlights.

It's also awesome and a little scary the way people put their hopes in you. There's a lot of responsibility involved in any elected office, and you realize it pretty quickly. On the local level I never thought it was as big a deal as it was for national-level candidates. Then I became a candidate and saw it for myself. You lose your jadedness pretty quickly.

So we've still got some more activities to go in this final week, I've got a busy weekend of door knocking ahead of me (and a pair of soccer games - indoor season starts Saturday night!), and a lot of last-minute work. It'll likely be a close election in the end, and I've got to motivate people this week to show up on Tuesday.

See you all online in a week!