Taking a closer look at campaign teams

Campaign teams have been on campus for the past two weeks, promoting their respective presidential candidate (Photo by: Heather Davidson)

Campaign teams have been on campus for the past two weeks, promoting their respective presidential candidate (Photo by: Heather Davidson)

For the past two weeks, red, blue and green have been the dominant colours at Wilfrid Laurier University with the teams behind the presidential candidates campaigning on campus. Sam Lambert, Chandler Jolliffe and Justin Tabakian sat down with The Cord to discuss the philosophies they hold when it comes to running their campaign team.

While all three candidates held volunteer meetings prior to the campaign period to familiarize their volunteers with their platform and the election policies, they each took a different approach to carrying out their campaign.

Lambert and Drew Jackson, one of his campaign managers, explained that they have taken a more lax approach when it comes to the plan for their campaign.

“We don’t have any strict guidelines,” Lambert said.

When asked whether his background as a business student factored into his strategy, he responded, “No way, I didn’t run it like a business whatsoever. I want to have a good time with the experience and I’m not going to have a good time if the volunteers aren’t having a good time too.”

Jolliffe and Nicholas Nyhof, one of his campaign managers, said they took a more structured approach to their campaign. Nyhof explained that within their team they have several levels of positions. As co-campaign manager, he’s in charge of the internal team which consists of policy managers, a scheduling role, marketing and volunteer liaison that then all have a couple individuals under them. They also have street team leads and their volunteers.

“Everyone has been run through the actual platform. And every single night we post the schedule for the following day and tag people in it,” Nyhof continued.

Jolliffe said he believes having this structure to his campaign is important in terms of his volunteers.

“If you want people to show up, make it as easy as possible for them to understand what your expectations are and when your expectations are and all they have to do is be there,” he said.

Tabakian and his campaign manager, Brandon Thompson, explained that their strategy has been to allow the campaign to slowly grow over the campaign period.

“We took a slow start to it and that wasn’t because we were unprepared, it was completely intentional,” Tabakian said. “I feel like the two week process is a long time for students and at times I think the average student here at Laurier being bombarded for two weeks can get a little frustrating and annoying.”

As a result, each day they’ve added another element to their campaign with the intention of having a “strong, lasting impact with the last couple days in the voters’ minds.”

Jolliffe, as well as Tabakian and Lambert, all have teams of about 60 people. However, Tabakian explained that only about 30 of his volunteers are actively engaged daily.

Each had different beliefs, however, in terms of recruitment.

While Jolliffe said that half of his team is made up of his friends and acquaintances, the other half are people he didn’t know prior to elections.

“A lot of the most dedicated volunteers we have are people I’d never met before I sat down with them … And they’re now people who come out every single day and are super active on Facebook and some of the most dedicated volunteers we have,” he said.

In fact, he said one of his goals was that if he showed anyone a list of his team no one would know more than half the group.

“If they knew more than half the group before we started, it meant we probably hadn’t diversified enough.”

Lambert was also looking for a mix of friends and strangers.

“The big thing is that we took the campus as a whole and tried to see if we could get people from every different corner of campus,” said Jackson.

“We wanted to make sure that everyone’s different views were represented.”

But Tabakian was surprised that people recruit students they don’t know for their campaign team.

“It’s hard to vouch for someone if you don’t really know what they stand for to begin with,” said Thompson.

As such, Tabakian knew everyone on his team prior to elections.

All three candidates emphasized making campaigning an enjoyable experience for their volunteers.

“Whenever I’ve been doubting myself … they’ve been there to pick me back up and keep going. I’m forever grateful for everything they’ve done,” Tabakian said.

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