First-time candidates hit campaign trail

Rookie candidates sometimes find election prospect daunting

The provincial election hits the halfway point this week, and seasoned politicians like the NDP’s John Horgan are using their political prowess to get the vote out, but for rookie candidates the prospect can be daunting.

That includes candidates like Liberal Cathy Noel and the Green Party’s Brendan Ralfs, who enter the political fray for the first time in the new Langford-Juan de Fuca riding.

Noel, a Langford resident, was the first declared candidate for the riding when she won the Liberal nomination in late November.

“From a timing point of view, it worked. I looked at it as another opportunity to have a greater voice in my community,” she said.

Noel, who has a background in non-profit and event management, added politics is an extension of her community and advocacy work.

Ralfs, on the other hand, wasn’t expecting to run for the Green Party. He joined the party less than a year ago, and when the call went out for the nomination he was asked if he was interested.

“I was thinking of running, but down the road. I assumed there would be longstanding candidates set up in local ridings,” said the B.C. civil servant.

Still, Ralfs was eager to accept the challenge, and there are many for first-time candidates.

Foremost is to get your campaign organized, then solicit volunteers, raise funds and, oh yeah, woo voters.

“The first thing I needed to do was make sure I could manage [the campaign] with the rest of my life, but also build a small campaign team,” said Ralfs, who took a leave of absence from the B.C. government to avoid any perceived conflict of interest.

For Noel, it’s been a little easier since she was nominated early in the process.

“It’s all about increasing the momentum,” she said.

Both candidates have worked hard at getting out in the community by door-knocking, attending local events, phone calls – even garnering support at local shopping centres.

Noel promised back in November that she would be on as many door steps as possible, and Ralf has hit local doorsteps but also looking for more volunteers to help.

“I probably haven’t done as much door-knocking as I thought would do,” Noel said, noting bad weather and time have been factors.

And both candidates have come across a few surprises they weren’t expecting.

“I didn’t have enough time to think in depth what this was going to be like. We’ve been learning as we go,” Ralfs said.

Added Noel: “I guess is that when people come up to me they want me to change the world.

The other part is that people can be really mean.”

The provincial election is May 9.


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