There are 11 people running for mayor in Greater Sudbury, 41 for city council and 26 races for trusteeships for the four school boards.
That’s a lot to juggle if you’re a voter. A lot of names to keep straight, a lot of policy statements and platform positions to keep track of. It can be tough to make an informed decision.
Oftentimes, in municipal elections, this means name recognition, familiarity and a candidate’s position on the ballot are prime movers for why someone gets a vote. Voters who haven’t followed the campaign and aren’t interested in the issues (besides the usual concerns about taxation, spending and road maintenance) tend to cast a vote for the first name they recognize.
So since only about half of eligible voters (give or take) participate in municipal elections, a significant number of those who do vote, vote mostly on name recognition. Which is why it is so important for candidates to get their names out there with advertising, signs, websites, door-knocking and the media.
Many candidates are unaware how to court the media though and so don’t. At Northern Life / Sudbury.com, we’ve tried to make it easy for candidates to use us to get their message out.
We reached out to each and every candidate. Multiple times. Many responded. Many did not. If you are a candidate in this election and you are reading this, check your email, check your voicemail, check your Facebook messages: you’ll find a message from us. If you’re the friend or loved one of a candidate and you’re reading this, maybe mention this to them.
Why have we reached out to candidates so often (besides the obvious)? We created an election website inside Sudbury.com. Every mayoral, council and trustee candidate has their own page we’ve created just for them, with room for a photograph, biography, platform, space for news releases, and links to all pertinent contact information, website and social media links.
It’s free to use for all candidates. All they have to do is supply our reporters with the information, and we’ll publish it for you, and share it on our social media feeds.
Not only is this a free source of advertising for candidates, but it serves voters as well. The website includes a list of voting locations, a ward map, a complete list of all candidates for mayor and council (divided by ward), and all trustee candidates, arranged by school board.
It’s a one-stop shop where you can find out who’s running in your area, what they look like (always important) and what they stand for (provided the candidate supplied that information, and most did). We’ve also supplied contact information, so if you have a specific question, you can address it directly to the candidate.
Our goal is simple: to help candidates get their messages out and to help voters make an informed decision.
I can tell you, this election is a hot one. We’re seeing considerable interest from readers on the election stories we’ve published.
But still, with so many candidates and so many issues, it can still be hard to find the candidate that meets your expectations. So, Northern Life / Sudbury.com has also started the Where Do They Stand? Campaign.
For mayoral candidates, we’ve identified nine issues that our reporters feel are the major issues in this election: the Kingsway Entertainment District; expanded casino gambling; big project spending; downtown and the urban-rural divide; taxation; roads; lake health; firefighting, and; transparency, openness and leadership.
For council candidates, we’ve asked about the KED and expanded casino gambling, as well as asking them to identify what they feel are the top three issues in the ward in which they’re running. For candidates running in a ward they don’t live in, that could prove challenging. Greater Sudbury is vast in size with distinct neighbourhoods that have distinct challenges.
For mayoral candidates, over the next few weeks we’ll publish Where Do They Stand articles on each of those nine issues, so voters will know not only a candidate’s opinion on the issue, but also how they propose to tackle it.
For council candidates, over the next few weeks, we’ll publish Where Do They Stand articles on those ward-specific issues candidates identify, but also stories on their opinions on the KED and expanded gambling opportunities.
If you’re a candidate, we encourage you to take part, to use the free resources Sudbury.com is offering to help you spread your message. If you’re a voter, we encourage you to visit the election section of our website to find out how the candidates see the Nickel City and what they would do to make it a better place to live.
And, please, don’t forget to vote.
Mark Gentili is the editor of Sudbury.com and Northern Life.