September 14, 2021, Kitchener, Ontario
Posted by: Robert Deutschmann, Personal Injury Lawyer
Rob and Bryan sit down for the third time to talk about local politics in this episode of Old Grey Mayors podcast. Bryan is a walking encyclopedia of local politics. He has forgotten more about local issues than most of us will ever know. You’ll find that in this episode Rob and Bryan’s warm friendship and laughing are contagious. You can’t help but smile as they banter back and forth about their shared love of the Region and its political history.
Recently retired, Bryan has been staying involved in the community and is enjoying being able to share his own opinions a bit more freely. He is the Chair of the Waterloo Region Hospice, he has been working at vaccination clinics, volunteering at St. Mary’s Church, and is a Rotarian. Doing good for the community is his focus. It seems that Bryan’s passion for making the community better and stronger has been passed on to his son Tony who is the community outreach coordinator at St. Mary’s Church in Kitchener where the work has concentrated on supporting the at-risk community in the core with service provision.
Bryan began his career in politics with a degree from Wilfred Laurier University in political science. Rob met Bryan at Laurier when Rob was his student for a year. Afterward, both Bryan and Rob worked for the same federal MP. Bryan then went on to work for a provincial member of parliament. It was there that Bryan realized his passion – to make a difference locally. The federal and provincial projects Bryan was involved with were rewarding, but he found he enjoyed connecting with individuals and helping them with their problems the most.
Bryan chose to run for office himself as a Kitchener alderman after getting to know Richard Christie and hearing Richard was running for mayor. Bryan was a long-time downtown resident and was keenly interested in the politics of downtown Kitchener which was at a crossroads at the time. Bryan thought he could make a difference. He was elected as an alderman in 1988.
Rob and Bryan talk at length about the history of Kitchener City Hall. The project from conception to building was a challenge for the city and the politicians. There was division in the community and on council as to how the project should proceed. As always municipal building projects face dissent and face funding challenges. The City Hall was finally built in the mid-1990s and when completed was fully paid for.
Both Rob and Bryan talk in length about their own political experiences. They talk about their passion for local government and the satisfaction of seeing projects through from planning to completion and emphasize how rewarding it is to see the immediate impacts of projects in the community. Their stories are funny and informative.
In the second half of the podcast, you’ll learn Bryan’s “Seven Secrets of Successful Political Campaigns”. Bryan has had a lot of time to think about and perfect the steps to getting elected. He has been a successful candidate himself and helped run other federal and provincial that saw his candidates win seats. His tips for success come from his campaign experiences over the years.
Most important in his mind is that any candidate understand their own motivations for running. Being able to articulate your passion clearly for yourself and to others is crucial. Candidates should be inspired by their objectives. Knowing what matters, researching it thoroughly and bringing people on board with your plan is a winning combination.
Other keys to success include understanding whether you are running to win or running to make a statement. It turns out that both can be good reasons to run if you have thought it through. Having good people on your team, a realistic budget and doing your riding research are important. You’ll need to “fish where the fish are” to get the votes. Depending on the riding geographic areas in the Region are huge. Getting recognized comes down to attending events and getting your face and name known. A good social media campaign and signage are also helpful.
Bryan and Rob talk about the many stresses encountered when running for office. Physical and emotional exhaustion is real. Campaigns are short but days are very long. It can be a challenge to balance campaigning, work, and personal life. Bryan advises that anyone running for office needs to go into the campaign with a “full tank”. If you are not in good shape going into an election then you will suffer emotionally and physically even more.
As always, there is far more to learn from the podcast than you will read here! If you are a resident of the Region, or just interested in local political history, you will enjoy this episode on your favourite podcast platform.