When my campaign kicked off in early February, my focus was to learn about all the things members of my ward were craving. The answer was nearly identical each time I faced an open door. A resounding "change!" Has been heard throughout every neighbourhood in Edmonton's Nakota Isga. It has been made clear that people are tired of being talked at, interrupted and ignored. Nakota Isga desperately wants to be heard.
Every door I've knocked on has caused me to reflect on who I am, and what I can do for the people I hope to represent. This campaign has made me realize just how different I am from the incumbent I am up against. I'm the blue-collar, indigenous candidate who wants to improve the quality of life for the people in my community. When it comes to making difficult decisions, my first step would be to consult with the people whose lives would be directly impacted. I wouldn't put myself in a position to "call the shots" if my goal was anything other than helping the people who voted me in. I am the candidate who will stand beside the residents of my ward, and fight for their cause.
As my campaign continued, I became more optimistic about my potential success. I would knock on doors and be greeted with smiles, and a lot of people already knew who I was. Conversations frequently closed with a "you have my vote!" and requests for lawn signs. It was starting to feel like the much-needed time for change was near, and that the underdog was becoming the MVP.
In August, politics decided to bare its teeth, giving me my first glimpse into the darkness that I had been warned about. I was informed that bylaw officers were removing my signs from yards near my home. It didn't take long to realize that only my yard had been targeted. A great deal of finger-pointing and pressure to bring about media attention ensued but I've never been one to play into drama. It's in times like these that I'm thankful for the ability to maintain a level head even in the most difficult situations. I contacted bylaw, who apologized profusely and sent the officers back to return my signs. Both officers gave different accounts of what led up to the signage removal and admitted that under normal circumstances my signs would not have been touched. However, they wouldn't provide me with a breakdown of the abnormal circumstances that they had insinuated. This was only the beginning. Soon after, my signs began disappearing all over the ward.
A third candidate joined the race nearing the end of summer. I was intrigued and welcomed the idea of a new competitor. I imagined that they would be yet another unique individual bringing an entirely different spectrum of views to the table. I was quickly proven wrong. A candidate from a previous election had emerged from a hiatus along with signage from his previous campaign. I was no longer the only one with a desire to paint neighbourhood lawns with Edmonton's infamous green and gold. Truthfully, I didn't care much about the colour of his signs, and brushed it off as a coincidence clothed in Edmonton pride. I even labeled it as lack of creativity when he began preaching about change and using a slogan I adopted months before.
Recently, a resident in my ward pointed something out that caused me to take another look at this candidate. If there was anything he had made clear, it was his obvious distaste for the incumbent we are both running against. His platform and website repeatedly mention the incumbent's name, and has pictures of the incumbent plastered throughout his social media accounts. The resident who brought this to my attention suggested the possibility that the third candidate joined the race simply to aid in the success of our ward’s incumbent. I cannot confirm the validity of this theory, but I do know that vote-splitting could be very detrimental to the future of our ward.
My campaign has less than a week left but has grown exponentially and continues to gain momentum. The residents of Nakota Isga have been flooding my inbox and phone with questions, and many people have voiced their concerns about the potential for vote splitting. I encourage everyone who reads this to go out and vote for the one who will truly advocate for the people of this ward. If you are looking for change, on October 18th vote for Steve Weston.