Opinion: Winning slate had technological Vision

At 5:12 p.m. last Sunday afternoon, Vancouver-Point Grey NDP MLA David Eby received the following email:

“Hi David,

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You may have gotten several calls from my campaign team today. Thanks for your patience!

As of right now we only have 1 hour left to vote, and our campaign scrutineers say you have not voted yet.

Will you vote? Please try your best to make it down to 326 W 5th Ave before 6 p.m. today so you can cast your ballot!

My campaign manager promises the calls will stop as soon as you do :)”

It was signed by Trish Kelly.

Kelly was running for the Vision nomination to park board for next November’s municipal election. And the email explains a lot — but not all — about how Trish Kelly managed to top the polls in the nomination race. In fact seven out of every 10 voters supported her.

The email makes it pretty obvious that Kelly has a machine behind her, what with a campaign manager, scrutineers and people working the phones (25 volunteers, she told me, on their own cellphones working shifts) contacting folks Kelly and her “team” had signed up as Vision members to support her run.

What it doesn’t say is that Kelly was part of a slate of four seeking the four open positions Vision was hoping to fill. The whole slate won handily.

By the way, aside from being of Metis ancestry, sitting on the city’s food policy council and being bisexual, she says of herself: “I’m a pretty darned organized person.” I don’t doubt that.

But back to the email: The email was generated with the help of fairly new (2011) software called Nation Builder. It bills itself as “the world’s first community organizing system.” And is a favourite of political campaigners and non-profits alike.

It can be an essential tool for people swimming in the social media pool of Facebook, Twitter and other various and sundry electronic ways of connecting.

For a small server fee — advertised from $19 dollars a month — it can track people once they sign on to your campaign, send them missives like the one Eby got, direct people working a phone bank, assist scrutineers to figure out who has voted and generally keep organizations big and small pretty darned organized.

My political campaign buddies tell me that winning a nomination is quite straightforward. First you sign up members and then you get them out to vote.

One more thing, if there are four positions open, which was the case here, and you are not allowed to plump (in other words you have to vote for four candidates or your ballot will be considered spoiled), which was also the case, your best bet to win is to form a four-person coalition.

Make a deal to work together and direct your supporters to vote for the slate. And that’s exactly what Kelly, Naveen Girn, Sammi Jo Rumbaua and Coree Tull did. They announced their slate just before the first Vision all-candidates meeting a couple of weeks ago.  

While competent individuals running on their own like Catherine Evans and Brent Granby each signed up 250 supporters, the slate is rumored to have signed up something north of 1,300. For Evans and Granby, it was like taking a knife to a gun fight.

Kelly refers to the slate as her “dream team.” And you can bet the heavyweights in Vision look at it the same way.

They are all connected to specific communities, including the politically active Filipinos and Indians. You have a diversity of sexual orientations in the LGBTQ+ community and you have someone with First Nations roots.

They are all as green as grass. And did I mention that they are all young and apparently hip.

It is all very important as Gregor Robertson stays on message defining the NPA opposition as old men.

At Sunday’s nomination festivities he added that they are “old school, out of touch” and engaged in “back room politics.” Yuk!

There was also a contest for one school board position but it was a bit of a sidebar.

All the action seemed to be around the park board competition with a remarkable 1,666 people casting ballots, including David Eby who voted for Trish Kelly among others.

agarr@vancourier.com
twitter.com/allengarr

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