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The co-founders of See Jane Run, from left to right: Tiffany Mackay French, Rothesay town councillor; Katie Bowden, president of Duke Creative Collective; and Brittany Merrifield, mayor of Grand Bay-Westfield. Image: Submitted/Duke Creative Collective

‘Campaign College’ Launches For Municipal Candidates

By Brad Perry Sep 16, 2022 | 8:00 AM

Tiffany Mackay French remembers the struggle to find resources and support when she decided to become involved in municipal politics six years ago.

“When I ran in 2016 for the first time, I was looking for resources and I couldn’t find anything,” said Mackay French, a second-term councillor in Rothesay.

“It’s a struggle when you’re working and have children, just to figure out everything for yourself with nobody there to help.”

It is part of the reason why Mackay French decided to help create See Jane Run, a grassroots organization dedicated to promoting and supporting women and gender-diverse folx who are interested in running for municipal office.

The group has launched a “municipal campaign college” ahead of the upcoming local government elections and byelections slated to take place in several New Brunswick communities on Nov. 28 as part of local governance reforms.

A total of 12 virtual sessions will take place every Wednesday evening in the lead-up to the election. Topics will include platform development, campaign finance, candidate wellness, using social media, getting out the vote, and others.

“Municipal politics don’t have political affiliations so the candidates don’t have that political party machine behind them to help them get ready for an election, so it’s really great that we have this platform that we can help women get the tools to get ready and build their confidence so that they can take the next step in their political career.

See Jane Run held nine sessions in the Saint John region ahead of the 2021 municipal elections. Mackay French said every candidate in the region took part in some way, either as a student or a presenter.

The organization announced in December that it would expand across the province in an effort to reach more women and gender-diverse folx.

In addition to the Zoom sessions, See Jane Run also has a private Facebook group for candidates and campaign managers.

“That’s a great place for women to ask questions,” said Mackay French. “Everything from ‘where do I get my signs printed’ to ‘I’m having this problem on social media’ or ‘I have someone trolling me.'”

See Jane Run believes its efforts helped encourage more women than ever to run for office in the last municipal election. Five of the six Saint John regional mayors are now women, and most regional councils also increased their number of female councillors.

Mackay French said she believes that will encourage even more women to put their names forward this time.

“When you see somebody in a role that looks like you or you identify with, it definitely is encouraging for you to think about that role in a different way,” she said.

The first virtual session took place on Wednesday, Sept. 14. You can sign up for a particular session and learn more about the municipal campaign college by clicking here.


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