Social media strategies tested in Saint John byelection

There are eight candidates running in the May 13 byelection in Saint John's Ward 3. The candidates are testing out different strategies to win votes in the race.

Ward 3 voters will be going to the polls on May 13 to replace former Coun. Donnie Snook

The ward byelection in Saint John is starting to heat up ahead of the May 13 vote 1:48

The Saint John byelection to fill the seat vacated by former councillor Donnie Snook is starting to heat up as candidates try different ways to woo voters.

Eight candidates have signed up to run in the Ward 3 byelection that will be held on May 13.

The candidates will be competing for a smaller pool of voters as byelections normally attract fewer people out to the polls than general elections.

Michelle Hooton, who served a term as the city’s deputy mayor but failed in her bid for the city’s top job, is adding a social media component to her campaign strategy.

"As soon as I roll out of bed, I'm at the computer checking the social media," Hooten said.

Hooten is not abandoning traditional politics entirely in her attempt to return to city politics.

She is also hitting the streets as a way to find voters, who may not be on Facebook or Twitter.

Saint John voters will elect a new Ward 3 councillor on May 13. There are eight candidates running in the byelection. (CBC)

"They're completely different voters, often the people I interact with on social media, I can't find them at home," she said.

Gerry Lowe's social media strategy is a lack of one. He is taking a more traditional view to his election campaign and does not have a social media presence.

Instead, he’s campaigning in places, such as nursing homes, where he knows voters will turn out on May 13.

"I'd say if someone gets 700, 750 votes, they'll win," he said.

"The average vote in a byelection is 15, 16 per cent, so in a place where they come with a ballot box, you can probably hit 40 per cent."

The voter turnout in the 2012 municipal election in Saint John was 45 per cent. It took roughly 1,900 votes to win one of two Ward 3 seats in the 2012 municipal election.

8 candidates competing in byelection

There are six other candidates in the byelection, along with Hooten and Lowe.

They include: retail manager Brian Boyd, child care worker Barbara Ellemberg, chef Allen Leslie, Anne-Marie Mullin, a former candidate, Mark Leblanc, a liquor enforcement officer and environmentalist Graeme Stewart-Robertson.

The ward covers the southern peninsula, Saint John's lower west side, part of the north end and much of the east side.

The byelection was triggered when Snook resigned his seat in January after being charged with three counts of touching a child for a sexual purpose, one count of making child pornography, two counts of distributing child pornography and two counts of possession.

Snook, who has been in custody since his Jan. 9 arrest, has not yet entered any pleas. He is scheduled to return to court on May 29.