‘Campaign school’ aims to draw new municipal candidates

Campaign school aims to draw new municipal candidates

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Amy Martin credits a couple of ‘campaign schools’ with teaching her about municipal politics.

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Now the student is ready to become a teacher, sharing those lessons with all interested.

Martin, a first-time Norfolk County councilor at the age of 30, said before she ran for election, she attended two campaign schools that enlightened her on the process of campaigning, elections, and the role of councillors.

“I had never considered running for office and went to campaign school mainly to report back to those encouraging me to run about why it wouldn’t work,” said Martin, who went on to handily take the seat from a longtime incumbent.

“But I met people who had full-time jobs and were counselors and those with families who were counselors. The schools gave me the courage to get my nomination papers in. ”

Martin is organizing a similar leadership course in February for anyone interested in running for council or simply intrigued by municipal politics in general.

“I want to share how to register, what the campaign process looks like, what the job consists of and how I spend my time,” the councillor said.

She said tips about campaigning and creating pamphlets or signs will be included but she hopes to create a more extensive networking experience so that like-minded people can share ideas.

Martin said helping people understand the code of conduct and Roberts Rules of Order will benefit the next council by ensuring “the most-prepared community members” are putting their names forward.

“It’s been a bumpy term,” Martin admitted.

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“I’m very proud of the work that’s gone on and the accomplishments for my community but council, as a whole, had a steep learning curve.”

After the 2018 election, seven of the nine councilors at the table were new and a year and a half later, long-time councilor Roger Geysens retired, leaving just Mike Columbus with experience on Norfolk council. Several years ago, Chris VanPaassen was a councilor for the former City of Nanticoke.

“There was a lot of learning and some big milestones pushed forward. It’s been the longest and fastest three years of my life, ”Martin said.

“People wanted us to get in and execute what we had said we’d do on the campaign trail but the learning curve really slowed things.”

She hopes her leadership course will continue to urge people, especially women, with good ideas to try politics – not for the role but for their goals.

“Norfolk County deserves the best candidates stepping forward.”

Martin just opened registration for the course, which will run for three hours on Feb. 11, and said she was shocked to immediately get 10 sign-ups.

“People are reaching out from Brantford and Haldimand County and all are welcome.”

As for Martin herself, the councilor hasn’t yet decided whether she’s running again.

“There’s a lot of work I’d like to see accomplished and difficult projects in the wings. Right now I’m focused on the work at hand and I have until May to decide. ”

While COVID restrictions may change plans, Martin has booked the largest room possible at Fanshawe College’s Simcoe campus. She’s asking participants to make a donation to the Port Dover Foundation instead of paying an admission price.

Register at https://bit.ly/Campaignschool or by sending Martin an email at [email protected].

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