Posted by DemocracyKit on 03/17/2017

Ange Valentini, Campaign Manager | Community Stakeholders

Video TypeInterview
Campaign AreaCommunity & Alliances,

Ange Valentini, Campaign Manager, Toronto, Ontario, Canada

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 Who are the stakeholder groups in the community?

Every community has its own culture and its own dynamics and its own characteristics and its own values.  And I would say that that that is true coast to coast to coast in Canada. But there is a couple of basic structures that are in place in, in most communities and that's how the natural leadership involves in a community and who the influencers are, who it's really important for a candidate in a campaign to connect with. And so if you're looking at a ward race and some municipal elections are like a city-wide slate and so they don't have geographic boundaries... If you're looking in a community like Toronto, you have city wards but then you've got school board wards that are different definitions that may or may not line up to other federal or provincial boundaries, but you basically need to identify your turf. So whatever the geographic area is that your campaign is running in, and then you need to figure out who are the influencers on that landscape.  And in a lot of communities there might be residents associations and they could go by different names - neighbourhood associations, ratepayers groups, tenants associations, but they're essentially forms of local democracy where people get together and talk about with the issues that are important to them on a regular basis.  And they generally usually do some fundraising, they usually do some events and they usually get involved in advocacy on local matters. In some communities that might be a group that's organized around managing a park or a community centre or the arena or there's, there's all kinds of ways people organize but the campaign team and the candidate should sit down and map out all of those groups. In some communities there are charitable organizations like a Rotary Club or other, other kinds of groups that are involved in community building. You may have community centres, parent councils, arena boards, sports leagues, also local business community. So in Toronto, we have a fairly structured approach to business improvement associations but they're basically like along the main street in any community. It's where all the local business owners come together and they actually impose a levy on their own property taxes, which generates significant resources for them to be involved in community building. It also gives them a fair bit of political clout.  And so the team should know who the influencers are and all of these different groups, and outreach to those groups and begin a dialogue. If you have time for your candidate to go for a walk or a run with those people, or sit down and have a coffee with, or drop in their monthly meeting; all of those things are really great ways to connect.  And even- I think it's really important for the campaign to connect and to hear where those community members are coming from and what their priority interests are, and to be thinking about how that aligns or doesn't align with their campaign. I have talked to people who well, you know, when you say "have you have you mapped out who your influencers are in the community?" and they'll rhyme off a list and then you can say "oh, but what about that 'bring back the whatever' group or save the schools," or look whatever, whatever the group is in the community. And that person will go "oh they would hate me, they don't like my politics." Like "I'm not, I'm not going to them," and I actually think that's problematic because I think, I think the active community is building, is about meeting people where they're at and going in with an open mind and an open heart and really listening. And as an elected representative, your job is listening and being an advocate on behalf of the community and it starts right at even your exploratory protests about why you want to be the camp candidate and why.

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