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Reflections on Running for Public Office

The Vancouver 2011 Civic Elections are now behind us and I congratulate the mayor and councillors that have been elected. I wish them all the best in their new/renewed roles and may they serve the city well.

Seeing the first handful of poll results come in indicated that I would be in for a long night. What was unexpected was how the rest of COPE’s candidates would fare. In the end, only Allan Wong for the School Board would get elected and the rest of us would be left pondering our immediate futures. What was most disappointing was seeing the narrow margin that kept Ellen Woodsworth out of the last council spot.

This is my first time running for office. Really, this is my first foray into politics and it’s been a memorable ride. It’s now a few days since the results came in and I’m finally feeling like I can catch my breath. From the exciting nomination to the disappointing end of the election, it’s been an amazing experience.

It was exciting as much as it was challenging. Up until the last two weeks leading up to November 19, I was still working my full-time job. From 9a-5p, I would be in the office all day and then rush off to any events, debates, meetings right after work and then not be home until 10-11p. 

The most physically challenging thing about this campaign wasn’t the lack of sleep or the hunger from missed meals. For me, it was when I pulled my back on Friday, November 4, trying to lift my baby’s car seat. I’ve been in agonizing pain since (my back still hasn’t recovered) but I had campaigning to do and I wasn’t going to let that stop me. The pain at times was distracting and made it hard to concentrate during debates (such uncomfortable chairs!). I even showed up to an interview in sweatpants since I just came from a physio appointment. Needless to say, canvassing, leafletting and mainstreeting had to be accompanied by sufficient doses of ibuprofen and occasional trips to acupuncturists and massage therapists.

I’ve met so many people and established new and lasting friendships. I was in the news a lot and someone even put out a diss track about me. I kissed a flying fish, had an op-ed piece for the Vancouver Sun printed (that was also published in the Calgary Herald), received an endorsement from the Georgia Straight, was profiled in Schema Magazine, performed a spoken word piece to express why I’m running for office, had an amazing campaign video produced where my daughter steals the show, and I took the lead in releasing COPE’s platform.

These are just a few of the highlights from the last couple of months. The whole campaign experience was really punctuated by the people I worked with and supported me. From designing flyers, to producing videos, to fundraising, to event planning, to door knocking, I count myself as one of the luckiest guys in the world to have such good friends taking time out of their lives to be so involved in the campaign. 

The COPE campaign team and volunteers were tireless in their dedication in supporting the candidates and were equally motivated in pushing us to work just as hard as they did. I have so much respect and love for you guys.

The Filipino community here in Vancouver has been wonderful in its support. I promise to continue to represent the community in a positive way and to do Filipinos proud in all my endeavours.

I’m so touched by my family’s support. Initially indifferent to politics, they eventually went out of their way to leaflet, door knock and make phone calls to help me and my fellow candidates throughout the campaign.

My wife and daughter are my source of strength and happiness. It was difficult barely seeing them these last few weeks but I take solace in knowing that this endeavour has enriched our lives. My wife is an amazing woman of patience and passion and I know I wouldn’t be where I am if it weren’t for her. I’m so happy I get to spend more time with them now.

What’s next? COPE will regroup and reassess. I’m confident that COPE will return stronger for the next election as it has done so when it didn’t do so well previously. 

Am I disappointed? Yes. Am I discouraged? Absolutely not. I will continue to build on the amazing foundation we’ve built and make sure we’re positioned for success when the time comes. 

We’ve engaged a lot of people that weren’t interested or involved before and we will to continue to have an ongoing dialogue with them to ensure they remain interested and involved. We will continue to spread the positive message we established during this campaign as it resonated with everyone we met. We’ve learned that people are turned off by negativity and combative attitudes. It’s now just a matter of working together to make sure our positive message reaches more people.

Will I continue to pursue running for office? As long as I’m prepared, the conditions are right, and there’s a need to create a Vancouver for everyone, yes I will.

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