Content-type: text/html ~ Stephen's Web ~ My Campaign For Mayor

Stephen Downes

Knowledge, Learning, Community

Mar 14, 2010

Originally posted on Half an Hour, March 14, 2010.

In October of 1995 I ran for Mayor of Brandon (Manitoba, Canada). The fact that I had lived in the city for only ten months made the gesture a little audacious; the fact that the incumbent mayor was running unopposed made it necessary.

Yes, folks, my campaign headquarters was the local pub, the Double Decker. This is my candidacy announcement press conference. I am visible at the very top of
the photo.

Right from the get-go I knew I was in for a tough run. The incumbant was very conservative, the city's newspaper was very conservative, and quite naturally each tried to portray me as a wide-eyed radical. Pictured right, the Brandon Sun's obviously unbiased photograph...

From the Brandon Sun. The announcement in the bar left an image too obvious to overlook. But, dammit, my head does not look like a Christmas tree.

My candidacy prompted another candidate to run, a university student who went by the name of Gorf. Though I was happy to see an additional face, he detracted a bit from my own campaign and we split the protest vote. There he is, pictured left. I am in the centre and incumbant Rick Borotsik is at the right.

Here I am at the same forum addressing an audience of about 500 or so people. Brandon's one electorial forum is sponsored by the Chamber of Commerce (I know there's only one because I lived in the city through three elections) and held at the Royal Oak Inn. Borotsik, lower middle, looking bored (ah the skills of the career politician), is clearly the focus of this newspaper shot.

The Brandon Sun's cartoonist depicts the forum. Gorf has a bag over his head because of his reluctance to be photographed. For my efforts - proposing a virtual city hall and plugging Brandon into the technology industry - I am caricatured on television. Oh well.

Ooo yeah, it's the love connection...

All good things come to an end, and the end came with a thud election day with
the result that I got 1600 votes, about eleven percent of the poll. It's funny - I had never really expected to win the election, and went into the pub election night knowing I would be sent down to defeat, but when the actual moment arrived, there was no escaping that sad feeling in the pit of my stomach. I've run in elections before, won some and lost some, and losing is always the same, no matter how faint the hope. It's tough.
But look... I did get 1600 votes, which in a city of 40,000 people is pretty good for a newcomer, and my primary objective, of ensuring that there was an actual campaign, was achieved. And Brandon didn't forget; next two mayoral elections were properly contested, allowing me to sit on the sidelines and cheer the winners and losers.

(Originally posted in 2001)

Stephen Downes Stephen Downes, Casselman, Canada

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