The 2018 Toronto municipal election was unlike any other. When Kristyn Wong-Tam asked me to be her Campaign Director in December 2017, the makeup of Toronto’s City Council was 47-wards. As election planning began in 2018, I put together a full campaign strategy and team for what was a campaign in the new Ward 22, which ran along Toronto’s Waterfront. The election period began in May 2018, and we began campaigning.
Kristyn speaking to the crowd at Nathan Phillips Square on the eve of the introduction of Premier Doug Ford’s council-slashing Bill-5. Here’s a video clip of the speech. This event reflected our ability to organize and mobilize our allies and the broader community quickly and effectively.
By August 2018, Premier Ford and his government had passed legislation that slashed City Council almost in half, from 47 to 25 seats. Our campaign led the fight against it. Citizens from across the city organized town halls and demonstrations. As part of a court challenge, the organization I co-founded, Women Win TO, was a plaintiff in the case against the government. For three weeks, as we fought in the courts, at the Provincial Legislature and on the streets, we didn’t know where we’d be running, or how many wards there would be. Four weeks before Election Day, the Court of Appeal ruled that the City would have to move forward with a 25-ward election. Despite the chaos, we charged forward.
Despite uncertainty and voter confusion, one thing was clear: I had a campaign to lead. With an exceptional core team, we whipped together a detailed campaign strategy and timeline and delivered a winning campaign.
- Developed full campaign strategy for Toronto Centre, including communications and creative direction, community outreach and engagement, data management, volunteer recruitment, digital strategy, voter contact, fundraising, and stakeholder engagement
- Led the campaign team through the the most challenging elections in Toronto’s history, adapting to seismic changes with a steady hand and a clear vision; worked with the candidate and core team to develop key campaign messages and candidate story
- Directed core team of 12 staff, including 4 directors, all of whom had breakout teams to execute strategic plan despite uncertainty, preparing for two election scenarios and a drastically shortened campaign period
- Managed all campaign media coverage, including coordination of press conferences, media statements, press releases and key messages; liaised with journalists and outlets, including coverage on CBC’s the National, Global News, CP24, Toronto Star, CBC News and other news outlets.
Kristyn speaking to the crowd at our Former Mayor’s Fundraiser
Campaign Video: Toronto is Worth Fighting For
Toronto Is Worth Fighting For: Kristyn Wong-Tam campaign video, produced by Min Sook Lee
- Oversaw the management of all communications and design materials for the campaign, including the writing and production of print brochures, handouts, signage, digital assets, website design and content, e-blasts, endorsements, photography, videography, fundraising communications, and more.
- Created a culture of creativity and positivity through campaign through creative direction, positive politics and values-based leadership; provided on-going mentoring and feedback for my team and addressed conflict and critical issues in a past-paced campaign environment.
- Worked with volunteer coordinators in developing our outreach and retention strategies and processes, campaign training tool kit and on-site training processes.
- Won decisively, garnering a majority of votes (50.1%) in a race against an incumbent City Councillor and a former Deputy Premier of Ontario.
The dream team, on Election Night, displaying what became our campaign motto, “position of strength.” 50.1% of the vote in a race against a former Deputy Premier.
Together with Kristyn and the core team, we protected our vision of positive politics and created a team culture where we could charge forward in the face of adversity. I lead the team through choppy waters, online harassment, voter confusion, issues management, never wavering from our core values and key principles. I was proud to lead an exceptional team of people and create an environment of respect, creativity, passion and collaboration. We definitely have fun – and get things done!
At any given time, you could probably hear me yelling, “Get a photo!” Once an art director, always an art director.
We went high when so many of our opponents went low. I was committed to being the beacon of light in an otherwise shadowed sea and held true to the conviction that aspirational politics can win in the face of arbitrary and vindictive policies.
Select Media Coverage
There was a lot of this. Speaking to media, prepping to speak to media, coordinating media, so on.
- These are the council members Toronto needs, The Toronto Star
- Late city councillor’s family backs Kristyn Wong-Tam in Toronto Centre , The Toronto Star
- Former Toronto mayors slam Ford’s use of notwithstanding clause before new vote, CBC News
- Toronto Centre candidates grapple with ward’s ‘extreme’ wealth disparities , The Toronto Star
- ‘Lack of co-ordination’ has left hundreds displaced 1 month after Parliament Street fire, councillor says , CBC News
- Toronto will take province to court over Ford’s plan to slash size of city council, The Toronto Star
- ‘Smear campaign’ during election highlights ‘wild, wild west’ of social media, CBC’s The Current
- The Trumping of Toronto politics: how I became the target of an alt-right slander campaign, NOW Magazine
- ‘Incredibly grateful’ Kristyn Wong-Tam re-elected in Ward 13, Toronto Centre, The Toronto Star
Lawn signs! Both big and small. You probably saw these, if you were at any point inside Toronto Centre during the election.
Volunteers are the lifeblood of any campaign. It’s essential for them to feel included, prepared, safe and part of something bigger than themselves. This takes thoughtfulness and empathy. And a great toolkit!
Outside fold of our first piece of literature
Inside of our first piece of literature
Inside fold of our second piece of print literature (20,000 copies)
Managed the team in putting together our Former Mayor’s Fundraiser. It was a truly incredible event.
Outside fold of our Church-Wellesley Village piece of literature
Inside fold of our Church-Wellesley Village piece of literature