How To Win An Election (feat. $$$)


On Monday,October 27th Municipal elections will be held in Ontario.  Welcome to The View, not that View, this view. This is only the beginning, it’s just going to get messier.

To set the stage for Municipal Politics Google Rob Ford, Toronto Mayor and let the laughter begin.  I am tired of the story so that’s not the one I am going to tell.

I live in Mississauga and we have had a remarkable Mayor who at the age of 93 has decided to retire after initially being the Mayor of Streetsville, where I was raised when Streetsville was Streetsville and then becoming Mayor of Mississauga when Streetsville was amalgamated along with other towns into the city of the suburbs.  Mississauga. She has been Mayor for most of my life.  I’m 50 years old for goodness sake.  Hazel is a legend and a mayor for all people and inspiration that age is nothing but a number.

It has been quite disconcerting to watch the ensuing campaign for Mayor. City Council and School Trustees degenerate.  This is more than just a city that is suffering from some serious abandonment issues. This my friends is politics and these are the politicians that represent us, the public.

Dear me.

Meanwhile, back in August of this year when I had settled back into my home town to live with my Mother, a great new friend of mine who cuts my hair talked about the need for change in representing our ward at City Hall.  He laughed, looked at me and said you should do it.  I laughed and looked at him and I said that I wanted my hair cut to be the male version of the hair style of  Robin Wright in House of Cards,  Then I said I would be good at that. Listening and empowering my community, I meant to add.

Later that same day I registered to run for City Councillor for Ward 11.   I had nothing to lose and it would give me a project and allow me reconnect with my community, my new home, which was my original home.  Yes, it’s changed a lot.

Everything changes and we all grow.


I contacted a friend of mine whose son is a political strategist and he reviewed the voting patterns and demographics of the riding and said there would be no reason for people to elect someone new.  As an addendum his mother added, if anyone could do it Harlon, it would be you.

More than once in my life, I’ve come close to achieving something remarkable, but never have I actually achieved it. The new and improved Harlon with 50%  more wisdom knows that nobody succeeds on their own.  I needed support, someone to stand by me. I reached out to test the waters.  They were tepid and I stepped back empty-handed and alone but still feeling curious.

For some reason I found myself connecting to the following song in a whimsical but also very real way,  Maybe I should have made a cover of it and made that my campaign strategy.

Spoiler alert; this posting will probably digress and have many tangents and at the end it will not make any sense and there will a Season Two of Harlon Finding Himself.

I learned how to make a website, I tweeted once or twice, I took advantage of free opportunities the city provided for candidates to share information about themselves, their priorities and why they were running. Organic, Grassroots.

No one tweeted back.

I entered the campaign last minute, without resources and dealing with chronic pain from arthritis which over the last few months has been a challenge for me.  There was a moment when I thought I should ask if it’s possible to withdraw my candidacy.

There was a moment where I thought I would win this.  Then there was the acceptance that I wouldn’t.  And then I surrendered to the realization that I had already won.

Just because I am 50 and I probably have a few skeletons in my closet and I am far from perfect, I am however, full of promise and don’t make promises I can’t keep and I am not ready to say NO I CAN’T or NO I AM AFRAID.

I am not withdrawing.  This is my victory.

I am happy with myself.

The Political campaigns of Canada could make for a great reality show, but would anyone believe that it’s real.

Meanwhile the messaging and the debates turned from dialogue about building a better future to messages about putting each other down.

Meanwhile, at home the phone rings several times a day with automated phone calls from various candidates.

Is paying an agency to do mass automated phone calls with canned messages the way to win an election?


Meanwhile, signs have been appearing and multiplying with no hint of a platform or strategy printed on them, Does a heavy investment in producing and placing signs influence people? Does the sign with the best font or the most pleasant colour scheme or the most photogenic and best photoshopped candidate win the election?


Does placing signs at every intersection suggest that wining an election is about location, location, location?


Does a constant flow of junk mail in the form of election  brochures and flyers that talk about what their competition didn’t do or doesn’t have or doesn’t know win an election?


In a few incidents, we received flyers in the mail for candidates that were not even running in my Ward. I couldn’t vote for them even if I wanted to.

And in another incident, a fellow candidate running against me for City Council in my home of Ward 11 came to our house not knowing who lived there and talked to my Mom.  She responded that she wasn’t interested because her son is running for City Council.  The response from the person was “can we put a sign on your front lawn?”


I have my website. I contacted community groups to apologize that I failed at my obligation as a candidate to meet with them and find out what they expect from their municipal tax dollars and what they would like their Councillor to do for them to improve the quality of their life.

I thought so.

The election is in two days. The guy that gives me a great haircut and has toned down my blondeness is my biggest fan and he believes that I am going to win.  And every now and then I think that he’s right.  Maybe something magical will happen. Sometimes something happens that is completely out of the blue.

Is a change about to come?

Sometimes people get tired of being dragged along the low road and they see something different, an unknown and they connect with that person, they like them and they tell two friends about that person and the potential they saw in them.  Will those two friends tell two friends?

I don’t know.

How much force is there in the power of the ripple effect?

Is this that time?. Is this my moment? Is this my meant to be?

Probably not.  People are busy and  there are more important things to do.

But I will never give up trying and never give up hoping and never give up of dreaming.

And this is what I created by myself about myself and my campaign. Click on the links below to see where I was going.

Thinking Forward


On election day I will be celebrating my Mother’s birthday who has put up with my nonsense from day one and to celebrate what a remarkable woman she is and to recognize that the best choice I’ve made in a long while is to go home.

5 thoughts on “How To Win An Election (feat. $$$)

  1. Hi Harlon, I tried to send this a comment, but it wants to me to log in to something. Which did not work for me. I am so sick of technology! Many times I wish I did not have email and it that it would never had been invented. My comment to your blog is below: _____________________________________________-

    Probably. Unfortunately Harlon, you probably won’t win. It would be excellent if you did, but all your questions about needing signs etc. are, unfortunately, probably true. That aside, if you are involved in running for a seat on council, then, I would guess you will learn much more than most of us know about ‘the system’ of getting elected. I hope you win. But, if you don’t, then, when I run for Prime Minister of Canada, I will be coming to you for assistance! You will be the Minister of ???, no, not a Minister, you will be the Ombudsman. – Randy Date: Sat, 25 Oct 2014 13:15:57 +0000 To:


    • Harlon, update us on the election and let us know how you are. I’m so hoping that your ride on the political machine took you on a roll but didn’t leave you flattened. You have so much courage and energy!


    • I feel like I am an Ombudsman waiting to be. And you a leader waiting to happen. There’s a Leonard Cohen song which comes to mind, “First we take Manhattan, then we take Berlin”.


  2. Harlon, what a great post! Remember that self-discovery is lifelong, so while enjoying the ‘finding’ remember that you are already the treasure! And here’s something I’ve learned: 50 is when our promise finally begins to overflow if we let it! Priorities are what allow us to make and keep promises, which means learning when to say yes and when to say know all the while remembering that “I don’t know” is a legitimate answer even in a court of law! And reflecting on your points, let me share;
    Surrendering is indeed a victory.
    Happiness is an event on the arc of life, not the continuum itself.
    Contentment transcends mediocrity because it moves!!!
    Harlon, the unreality of politics isn’t limited to Canada; just look south but make sure to wear sunglasses when you do because the glare of political insanity is blinding. And in all life, not only politics, it’s time to build ourselves and one another up rather than tear each other down. And as for the power of the ripple effect: its real and true and utterly amazing but it isn’t about power which is what most forget. If we add our ‘drops’ together we can generate a new channel of flow, redefining ‘viral’…
    You asked; Is this your time?Is this your moment? Absolutely! But whether its about politics is a very different question!!!
    And life is too short for trying and hoping, so continue to grow for it as you dare to live your Dream! Yoda (no try, only ‘do’) is one of your cheerleaders and even though we’ve not yet met, so am I! And give your Mom a big hug because she knows that non-sense isn’t craziness, it’s all about authenticity! And Harlon, that’s you!


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