Nova Scotia

Social media factors into HRM elections

Candidates vying for council and school board positions in the Halifax Regional Municipality this time around have new tools to reach potential voters.

Many candidates are using new media in their campaigns

Municipal elections used to be about door knocking, public events and meet-and-greets. Now there are web sites, Facebook and Twitter.

Candidates vying for council and school board positions in the Halifax Regional Municipality have new tools to reach potential voters.

Cindy Littlefair is running for the Halifax Regional School Board in District 4. Not only is it her first foray into the political arena, she's also a newbie when it comes to social media.

"Not a natural at all. It took a lot of learning, mostly via my kids," she said.

Her campaign has a Facebook page with 76 followers and a blog, but she said she has yet to attempt Twitter. "I'm doing everything I can to keep up with Facebook…the power and the reach is phenomenal," she said.

"I think it's indespensible...I will be asking people to share on Facebook and if possible even just by email forward my url to folks they know in the south end, west end and Armdale. It's tremendously valuable. It's support."

Other candidates are more experienced on multiple online platforms. Waye Mason is running for city councillor in District 7, makes use of Facebook and Twitter, and uses his website to solicit a form of crowd funding.

Mason said the money and donors are listed as it comes in. "It makes it a really open process and it means that average everyday people who maybe haven't been donating in municipal elections, they have been donating."

Mayoral candidate Fred Connors is also on youtubetwitterfacebook etc. He said they're just tools for sharing ideas.

"It only really works if you're doing it in a way that's authentic. People want to be able to engage in a way that they feel that they're part of a conversation."

While social media is a factor in this campaign, candidates said it has not yet made older campaign tools obsolete. One of Connors most prominent campaign tools is an ideas chalkboard on the outside of this cafe on Agricola Street.

Littlefair said she plans to make use of traditional tools including lawn signs, business cards, print ads and press releases.