Nation, this blogger is blessed to have many articulate readers and friends who visit this blog, some of whom occasionally agree with him, and, as is more often the case, many of whom DISagree with him (because they're intelligent, and he's just eye candy).
Occasionally, one of those readers or friends (in this case, both) submits something in writing that deserves a great deal more attention than the typical "comment" at the bottom of another blog post. Christina Rontynen submitted the following commentary to me last Saturday evening, and I'm putting it up on the blog (with her permission) for public consumption. All references to time (e.g. "tonight" or "this evening") are - as Einstein might say - relative.
Christina's writing begins... now.
I sit up on a Saturday evening ... and like the nerdy, politically astute female I am I wonder what my mayoral candidates are up to. Saturday night is the stereotypical date night; the night away, the night off, the night checked out from the world of politics.
Looking through my TweetDeck I find that the hashtag #nomnomnom brings me to find individuals enjoying funnel cake, chocolate chip cookie dough, and @eliz_rocks enjoying “deep fried cheese curds”. Obviously the single people of the world are connecting via terrible food this evening. I flip over to #yycvote and find that people are all a buzz talking about Burrows’ hired plane circling GlobalFest with a “Vote Burrows” banner behind it (via @djkelly), Kent Hehr at his fundraiser being interviewed by one of our own, @oberhoffner, and Hawkesworth reminding us to sign up for his fundraiser supporting a sustainable Calgary ... whatever that means.
But aren’t our candidates real people? How do they enjoy their Saturday night ... honestly ...
I ponder the idea of the rich, successful, suave politician – entering an exclusive Calgary bar (do we even have one?), talking to the “common folk” with a martini, a smirk, and all the right answers. I feel myself instantly being swayed as I hear their vision for a better Calgary and realize that they like going out and socializing just like I do on a Saturday night. They are honest and not bashful about the fact that they are just as typical as I am in this city.
Now the nail is hit on the head – why haven’t I picked a candidate to support yet? Why haven’t I been wooed by a potential front runner? Why haven’t I gotten excited about the potential of a future leader in Calgary? It all comes down to the fact that I just can’t see these candidates as real people.
Ok – a bit harsh, I know. So I open up the video file of the last mayoral forum online. I witness Craig Burrows talking about growing up as a boy in neighbourhood of minorities, Joe Connelly being excited about wearing Pilipino garb, Nenshi giving the same speech I saw on his YouTube video, McIver saying no, and Barb Higgins reminding me I was but a little person that she was willing to listen to. I imagine sitting down for coffee with each of the 14 candidates ... what would they think of me? A born and raised 23 year old graduate student at the University of Calgary, passionate about social media and excited about the future of this city. I know what I would ask them, but I wonder what they would end up asking me. A key idea that we often overlook; we always have questions for them – but really they should have questions for us too. We are the people they want to represent.
And as I strive to make a decision about which candidate to support, I realize I am looking for an actual person. I’m curious if they are sitting on TweetDeck on Saturday night, or out with a loved one, or sharing their evening with a room of passionate volunteers. I realize that I’m looking for a real person to represent me; someone who understands that it is important to be honest and authentic when answering questions on Twitter and key to be assuming that the average Calgarian has never heard their name before.
I keep looking to Twitter for glimpses of this real person. Hoping for responses to questions that don’t sound negotiated or developed by staff; replies to direct messages for coffee invitations; twit pics featuring their Saturday night enjoying this marvelous city. Where are these indications of real people? Am I missing something? Or are my fellow Calgarians waiting for the same thing?
Why do I want a real person representing this city? Because I’m a real person – my parents are real people – my colleagues are – and my friends are. I want someone who gets what it is like to be in Calgary on a Saturday night and truly feel privileged to be here.
Candidates – I’m waiting to hear why you love this city. Of course it is because of the great people – but why? Why are you the real person that should represent Calgary? And why are you the real person that should win over my support and admiration? Why are you the mayor that is willing to support me, the passionate citizen?
Inspire me mayoral candidates ... I’m begging for it.
(this has been cross-posted to CalgaryPolitics.com)