GUEST COLUMN: Some advice for all those candidates who didn’t get elected

Caleb MacKinnon

Now that the candidate fairs and door knockings are over, Sarnia has a newly elected city council.

I say to the other candidates who rose to the challenge and decided to run, good on each one of you. If it feels disheartening to have lost (and I know some of you were sure you’d win) I hope you’ll see the result as simply taking a step toward a goal.

Take note that five members of the new council — Mayor Mike Bradley and councillors Dave Boushy, Mike Stark, Brian White and Terry Burrell — have all come up short in previous elections.  Some quite resoundingly.

So now what? You’ve caught up on sleep and figured out where to store the signs. Your paperwork should be done. Write. That’s right, I said write – as in thank you notes. I like to find unique cards; art cards from a local artist are a great choice.

If someone contributed financially to your campaign, that’s obvious. If they gave time to the campaign, or to the survival of you and your family, they deserve one too. You may need all of their support again so express your gratitude with a personal note.

If you think you might run again some day, think long term and stay active. More groups and organizations in our city are looking for help than there are hours in a day. Join a board, a committee or fundraising activity you’re passionate about. And don’t just join, throw yourself into it; there’s a lot to be done.

Expand your circle by attending new events or taking a class, and by listening to friends and strangers alike with compassion and understanding.

And I’ll just say it – there’s a federal election coming up, and you’ve earned the right to consider running.

Former candidates for office have also earned the right to speak up. But going forward, remember that everything you say, everything you do, every website you visit, every post or ‘like’ or thumbs-up emoji you send to the web — even to people you consider a friend — can and in all probability will be used against you.

The court of public opinion can be unforgiving and brutal. But I still believe being nice, positive and helpful is the best choice. Don’t be too critical of situations and people, but instead offer a better proposition.

And since I’m giving away free advice here’s some for the new councillors. Keep your head down, do your homework (including the reading) and listen twice as much as you speak.

And finally, to all the elected officials, don’t get too comfortable. The voters of Sarnia are very comfortable with changing their minds.

Caleb MacKinnon is a husband, father, grandfather, teacher and progressive activist.