BEYOND THE HEADLINES: Facing the challenge

Making friends is as easy as the click of a mouse these days.

Making friends is as easy as the click of a mouse these days.

Prior to Saturday, Wayne Lippert didn’t have a presence on Facebook but that didn’t stop Vernon’s mayor from making up for lost time. Within a few short hours, he had made the cyber bond with 30 people and the list continued to climb.

As of Tuesday morning, Lippert had 109 friends.

Now there’s no question that Lippert is a likable guy and he knows how to work a crowd. But his meteoric rise on Facebook has more to do with trying to land a third term as mayor than trading jokes or birthday wishes with old school chums or someone he met in passing at a community event.

Many of the comments on his personal page refer directly to the pending election and wishing him well on the hustings.

But Lippert isn’t the only Vernon mayoralty candidate latching on to social media.

Rob Sawatzky has 50 people in his Facebook group and nine likes on a FB page. They provide links to a website while also providing details of his platform and making the pitch for campaign donations.

Perhaps the most energetic approach comes from Patrick Davies. He has 56 likes on a FB page dedicated specifically to his run for mayor. It includes photos, commentary and responses to questions posed by residents. There’s even links to his website and a YouTube video discussing issues of importance to Vernon.

But it’s not just the mayors burning up the information highway.

Ruth Hoyte and Brian Quiring have Facebook pages dedicated to getting them elected as Vernon city councillor, while council hopeful Kelly Fehr keeps friends up to date on his personal page, and if that isn’t sufficient, you can twitter him too.

Search Facebook and McEwan4Mayor will put you in touch with Jim McEwan, who wants Lumby’s top job. In Enderby, incumbent Dee Wejr has embraced the technology while Lake Country’s Noreen Guenther and Coldstream’s Maria Besso can also be found there.

Mark Zuckerberg created Facebook to rate women, but the applications have ballooned. You can launch social movements, promote a business or reveal life’s little details.

It was only a matter of time before political wannabees got on board. It’s an easy way to get your  message across to a captive audience, particularly among those wanting to pad their friends’ list.

But as much as there are new ways in the world, some of the old methods for campaigning, such as newspaper ads (yes, that was a shameless plug) can still be effective.

Particularly, I encourage candidates to select a neighbourhood and go door-knocking. It provides a more meaningful opportunity for residents to express their concerns, while  it gives the candidate all important personal recognition on a crowded ballot.

The other tried-and-true method is to go where the people are.

Given that senior citizens tend to enthusiastically show up at the polls, candidates should be visiting the Schubert Centre, the Halina Centre or their counterparts in the other communities.

Technology is a generational thing and while some seniors are on Facebook it’s largely more the domain of the under 40-crowd and their participation in the democratic process unfortunately isn’t worth talking about.

For us traditionalists at The Morning Star, election time means we’re churning out hard-copied papers (I associate informational substance with the feel of ink on the hands). But we’re also not dinosaurs.

Along with the politicians, look for The Morning Star on the web and Facebook.

—Richard Rolke is the senior reporter for The Morning Star