Thoughts from the end of the Halifax Regional Council campaign trail

On the day of the recent municipal election, before he knew the outcome, Halifax Councillor Waye Mason shared these thoughts on the campaign.
It’s 10:45 in the morning on October 15, election day in Halifax. I’m asking myself “what if.” Over and over and over again.
What if.
Running for municipal office in HRM is hard. The districts are bigger than provincial ridings, but there are no parties, no pre-existing database, no supporting infrastructure. It is just you and who and what you are able to mobilize to convince folks to vote for you, not someone else. You are not getting elected because of a red, blue, or orange wave. You are getting elected, or not, because of you, your efforts, actions, and words.
We’ve felt for three weeks that we were winning, convincingly. We didn’t say it; “campaign like you’re losing” was our mantra. Get out there and work as hard as you can. And we did. What if it was not enough?
My campaign team has been awesome. My wife is our graphic designer, our friends are our agent, copy editor, sign manager, campaign manager, volunteer coordinator, and scheduler. Our team worked so hard. What if we should have worked a bit harder? Dozens of people have handed out flyers or knocked on doors with me, coming out canvassing in weather from drought conditions to cold and rainy.
What if we didn’t knock on enough doors? We had a sophisticated database back end, our stuff looked great, our communications on point. We stayed on message despite repeated opportunities to be derailed. We got our point across. What if we didn’t understand what issues were really resonating?
The campaign started in May with an announcement. We pushed out a lot of detailed policy, because I am a wonk and it matters to me. We know most folks never read that deeply. What if our message was too complicated?
We knocked on over 9,000 doors. I got amazing positive response, some nights we would get 30 to 40 positive responsive, a handful of lukewarm, and only one no. We identified a lot of voters to get out, or “pull”, on election day, and we are doing it. What if they are not really supporters?
What if my opponents pulled more supporters? What if we are seeing what we want to see? What if we missed a key group of voters? What if we misread the whole electorate? What if I didn’t do a good enough job? What if my opponents are right about me? What if I am fooling myself? What if I don’t deserve to get re-elected?
It’s 10:55 in the morning on October 15, election day in Halifax. I’m asking myself “what if.” Over and over and over again.
What if.
I’ll know in 10 hours.
In the final tally, Mason won District 7 with 2,962 votes. It was a bigger win than many watchers expected. Popular former councillor Sue Uteck finished a distant second with 1,590 votes.

This story was originally published in Halifax Magazine.

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