We’ve just been through a couple of elections in Ontario and it was heartening to see how some of the candidates in the running used social media to spread their ideas to the constituency. In fact, I blogged about the use of social media previously. It’s an interesting way to follow how the candidates are doing. Sure, there’s the traditional media but they’re not necessarily 100% objective; they often have their political angle to follow.
The thing that is disappointing though, is that for many, once the election is over so is the social media presence. I suppose it’s to be expected by those who were not successful, although if they really “got it”, it would be a change to have a voice to criticize and build a community for the next election. But, kudos have to go to those that continue to stay connected via blog, Twitter, Facebook or some other sort of social media. That really impresses me even though you know that not all of the messages are from them directly. One would be our Premier Dalton McGuinty. Another that comes off hand is Governor General David Johnston. What a great way to get an unfettered message to the masses.
The use of social media just at election time is disingenuous. I know that it’s a relatively new phenomenon to some but I think that I would really have a great deal of respect for someone who promises during her/his campaign to stay connected after the election to provide information directly to we taxpayers. In fact, anyone who promises to live-tweet or live-blog during debates on bills would be guaranteed to get me to look strongly at their candidancy.
Even more impressive would be someone who is a known user of social media to spur conversations, debate issues, take a stand, etc. BEFORE the election. For them to have a position already established and then to slide over to election mode would be the best possible scenario.
Voters in Scarborough-Agincourt have that opportunity in candidate for board of trustees, Monica Batac. Monica is a an established social media user. I first met her at the ISTE Conference in Philadelphia where she was just another Ontario Educator in the pack of us that learned and dined together. At the time, she was going to school to get her Master’s Degree in Teaching. We met up again at the ECOO Conference in Toronto. What I particularly like about these events and the Ontario Educators that went to these two events is that the conversation is certainly not an echo chamber. In our discussions, we talk and push each other to think about the WHYs that go with what we’re doing. That is so helpful.
It was with a smile that I read that Monica was planning to run in Scarborough-Agincourt. Monica has strong ideas and opinions about education and isn’t happy with the status quo. I think that she’s perfectly placed to take on the challenge of representing people in that huge school district.
Many who head into political office do so with a machine behind them. Monica’s working to build a social machine. Whether it’s through her Facebook fan page, Twitter account, or personal website, she’s doing her best to build community to help spread her message. Reading the content recently, she does have friends and followers, but not necessarily in Scarborough-Agincourt. Hopefully, that grows as she heads towards the February 27th election date. She did get a little bit of traditional media coverage which can be a challenge in a by-election.
So, how does a first time politician get money to run? There have been a lot of fund raisers that I’ve heard of before but how about attending a Yoga Class together? Is this a sign of new thinking to come? Her friend Colin Harris already has blogged about her thoughts of planning and expecting excellence. These are the sorts of things that we need driving education towards the future.
It would be terrific and a positive sign for the future that candidates who know and use the technology are taking the time to get elected and move the educational system forward. I just wish that I could vote for her.