Like many folks in New West I live in an apartment. This means that knocks on my door are pretty rare (I’m a quiet neighbour). But if you live in a detached home and some townhomes you may find knocks at your door a more regular occurrence. Door knocking or canvassing is going to be picking up soon and for many candidates intending on running in October’s municipal elections, it’s already begun.
Gurveen Dhaliwal, candidate for New Westminster School Board Trustee, invited me out on Tuesday, September 4th to see what door-knocking involves and hear what some residents in New West had to say. We picked a corner and a time to meet up and promptly lay out our course for the evening.
My observations and lessons:
- Door knocking takes time. We walked the length of a street that spanned about 2 New West blocks and it was took over an hour to do both sides of the street.
- New West likes to talk. It might take a few probing questions but people have strong opinions and want to be heard.
- Wear comfortable shoes.
- Always close the gate behind you and never walk across someone’s lawn.
- People are really happy about getting a new high school.
- The candidates are not out to openly debate or argue, it’s more about listening to what you have to say.
- Candidates often try and communicate with other candidates where they will be on certain days to avoid doubling up and door-knocking on the same street.
- Dogs. There are some awesome dogs that need to be pet. I was happy to oblige.
Door knocking was largely a positive experience. I would recommend that anyone interested in gaining experience or testing the water of your future political career reach out to a candidate and ask them if they need help for an hour or two. You don’t only gain perspective and experience, you get one-on-one time with the candidate. I learned that Gurveen grew up in New Westminster and is the daughter of immigrants from India which has helped shape her desire to increase transparency and engagement in the New Westminster school system, especially for new immigrants and working class families. She recently completed her degree from UBC and we completed very similar undergraduate courses (my major was Women’s Studies at SFU and Gurveen’s was Sociology with a minor in Gender, Race, Sexuality and Social Justice.
Two final thoughts as an apartment dweller. In the 2011 Census it was reported that approximately 18% of New Westminster residents lived in detached homes while over 70% lived in an apartments (of all types).
Candidates: If door knocking is only targeting detached homes, how are you proactively seeking input, opinion and ideas from residents living in other structures?
And fellow apartment dwellers:
How are you making your voice heard for the next municipal election? Are you speaking directly to candidates? Are you attending any of the all-candidates meetings? Are you inviting candidates into your building? Your voice and vote count.