Late last year, a friend of mine involved in local politics asked if I had ever considered running for municipal council. She outlined a number of reasons she thought I would be a strong representative for residents in ward 9. Of course, it’s clear now that I took her advice and am running to be our next ward 9 councillor. The journey so far has connected me to a number of local organizations who encourage and support women to become more engaged in local politics, including running for office.
One group that provided both the inspiration and the information needed to run for local politics was the Women’s Municipal Campaign School which offered two days of workshops in the Region. Not only did I learn a lot at these sessions, but I was welcomed into a supportive community of passionate women dedicated to helping more women run and get elected.
Through these connections I then became involved in starting a local chapter of Equal Voice, a multi-partisan organization "dedicated to electing more women to all levels of political office in Canada." I was elected as co-vice chair to the steering committee and I have contributed to establishing the direction for the local chapter.
Once I filed my nomination papers in May, I started talking more seriously with other women who are running this fall. We are now a group of 15 women who connect regularly, through social media, attending each other’s campaign events, or even attending fun, local events in our community such as Music Bingo at Descendants (pictured left).
And this past January I marched with many others in the Women’s March Canada in downtown Kitchener. This began my connection with an organization that offers a wide variety of supports and education, including a desire to see progressive women run in local politics. They are currently compiling a list of such candidates and posting it to their website. Here’s my profile on that page.
An essential component of our democratic system is the representation of all citizens. Everyone deserves to have a voice at the table. Our current local councils do not yet have gender parity. More women on council is one step we can take to better mirror the demographics of our community. I am proud to work with organizations like those mentioned above to support more diversity on our local councils.
If you would like to meet some of the amazing women running locally this fall, consider joining us Tuesday evening for a meet-and-greet event. Find out details here.
Recently on Twitter, Devils Cut Podcast posed the following question: "We know campaigns can be tough, so to lighten things up we're asking candidates if they had campaign music, or a song they feel represents them, what would it be? Could be an artist, or an album, anything! Thanks!"
This got me thinking, and as much as I wanted to pick one song to represent the campaign, I couldn’t. Hence this blog post! You see, I couldn’t pick just one song as my experiences on the campaign are so varied. No two days look quite the same, so one song was not going to suffice.
Here is a little peek into what some days can look like on the campaign trail, and a song that best represents that to me.
First up is Jeremy Fisher’s Nothing to Lose. This is a great song that motivates to keep trying new things. Whether that’s running for local office or trying creative ways to engage with citizens while on the campaign trail, this song is a great motivator for me.
Next, I need to include The Proclaimers’ I’m Gonna Be (500 miles) in honour of all of the walking involved in knocking on doors to connect with residents in ward 9.
Of course, some of those days on the campaign trail can be hard work, leaving me exhausted at the end of the day. I’m thankful to my core group of supporters, especially my campaign manager/spouse who continually encourage and support me. One of my favourite local artists, Richard Garvey has just the song for this. “I Will Meet You Where You Are” is a lovely song that speaks to this support.
On those harder days, my support team always reminds to simply “Shake It Off” and I can only do that with Walk Off The Earth’s version of that song of course!
Once I shake it off, I’m off to talk to residents again to discuss important issues in ward 9 including affordable housing, traffic-calming strategies, and active transportation. Conversations around cycling of course means I need to turn up Queen’s “Bicycle Race”!
And then head to the core since as Petula Clark reminds us things will be great when you’re “Downtown”!
Thanks for the fun question Devils Cut Podcast. I often have music playing as I go about my day. It was fun to think about how certain songs connect to my work on the campaign trail!
I have written several posts and newsletter articles about the importance of engagement. I believe our next ward 9 councillor needs to connect with residents in a variety of ways and formats to ensure better communication and involvement between city hall and citizens.
Campaigning allows me to engage with ward 9 residents in a variety of ways. I believe face-to-face conversations are one of the most effective ways to do that. However, I also send out a newsletter, participate on social media, and update my website regularly. Additionally, I have come up with some creative ways to reach out during the campaign including hosting a book club and running a video series that highlights various community assets found in ward 9.
One other way to engage with residents is an all-candidates meeting, several of which are coming up in ward 9. The first one is hosted by The Working Centre tomorrow evening, September 12th at 6:30pm. This is one more opportunity to hear from and discuss ideas with all of the candidates running in ward 9. Although conversing face-to-face is definitely my preference, the all-candidates meeting format allows residents to hear from and compare all candidates on a variety of important issues.
I hope you’ll join us for the evening. I look forward to seeing many of you there to engage with all the candidates and appreciate your willingness to come out and support my campaign.
Campaign season is in full swing and that means my days and evenings are busy knocking on doors, posting to the website, and preparing for debates. But life is all about balance and it’s time to have a little fun! Join me each week for a segment I am calling “Where in the Ward is Melissa Bowman?”
I was recently reminded of a computer game I played in school where players were encouraged to use geography clues to locate the main character, Carmen Sandiego. It eventually became a popular television show as well. Reflecting on it now, I am sure teachers rejoiced as students were enthusiastically riddled with geography questions. As a student of course, it just felt like pure fun, but apparently, I was also learning something as well!
Here’s how it works: I will take a note from those teachers’ playbook for my game – a little bit of learning along with some fun. On Tuesdays I will post a single picture of a location in ward 9. Your task, should you choose to accept it, is to use your observation skills to identify my location. On Wednesdays I will post my location along with a short video with a little more information about that space.
I have had a lot of fun putting this together and enjoyed learning more about some great spaces in our neighbourhoods. I hope you’ll join me each week for a little tour around ward 9!