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Brandon Sage – running for LPCO VP of Organization

As you have read, I’ve been doing a series of interviews – some of them are with folks running for Liberal Party of Canada (Ontario) positions that will be decided in September at the LPCO convention. Today, I present an interview I did with Brandon Sage, who has decided to run for the VP of Organization. Thanks to Brandon for participating!

Could you tell the readers (and me!) what exactly the person who is the VP of Organization for the LPCO responsible for doing?

Preparing for elections. For me, that means preparing the party to win elections – and the best way to do that is to focus what achieves results. It’s important for the VP ORG to support local campaigns during the writ period – but more-so to support electoral district associations prior to the writ as their job starts the day after an election ends and their work builds the capacity to win in the next election. The VP ORG’s most significant role is to help them achieve that.

You mentioned this briefly at your website, but for those who haven’t visited yet, and for those of us who like more detail, what made you decide you wanted to (or needed to) run for the LPCO VP ORG position?

I want to step-up the support we provide to our front-line volunteers. Lincoln said, “give me six hours to chop down a tree and I will spend the first four sharpening the axe.” EDAs are the grindstone on which the axe of volunteers can be sharpened. I believe VP ORG is about getting the noses of our volunteers to their grindstones earlier, more often, and more effectively so when we come out swinging in the writ period we’re cutting deep. I believe in the potential of local campaigns to help us win. I also believe that we are currently deficient in our capacity to support them in doing that very much to our detriment. Even if you subscribe to the belief that a local campaign can only make a difference of +/- 10% in a general election, an understanding of the seats we’ve lost in the past by less than 10% will make it pretty clear its worth investing in local campaign capacity – especially given that the required investment to generate visible results is quite low.
The office of VP ORG can engage with EDAs across the province. It should make them more aware of resources LPC(O) presently offers. It should listen to what additional resources the EDAs require. Then, it should build the capacity to provide those resources. I decided I wanted to run because I believe we need to do this, because I want to do this, and because we can do this.

If elected, can you tell us yet what you think your immediate priority would be for you once you got started in the position? A follow-up to that question would be what you feel the biggest challenges are that you will face if elected.

My first priority is to step-up LPC(O)’s work to reduce “campaign wheel reinventing”. The EDA Handbook was a battle won in effort, but the war continues. We need to get vital information on campaign practices written-down and out to the front lines where it can do the most to win for us. The knowledge is out there as is the willingness to share it and the technology to facilitate that sharing. We just need to bring these together in a manner that gives vital campaign concepts a place to be brought-forward, improved, and made accessible. My focus will be on rolling out a platform to achieve this.
This needs to be done, because every precious hour a volunteer spends going through a campaign’s learning curve is another hour not invested in bringing a campaign to the next level. It is also another hour often more demoralizing to a volunteer than it is energizing. Let’s stop re-inventing wheels and really start driving to victory.
When rolling-out any new tool, the biggest challenge is always making sure people want to use it and feel comfortable using it. A new platform is only as good as how it is used. It has to be useful to our front-line volunteers as well as easily accessed yet adequately secure. So the challenges are technical (building and securing it), content (filling it with useful knowledge), and logistics (getting it out there).

A related question: the next election is at the very latest 15 months away – many feel it will be called sooner. Do you think that there is enough time for you and the LPCO to implement the changes you feel are needed in order to be ready for the election call?

Most certainly there is the time to implement the changes needed and the extent to which there has already been improvement at LPC(O) this year has been nothing short of impressive. Ultimately the work ahead of us is very much one of leading horses to water, but they have to be willing to drink. So, our work in the time ahead is to make it easier for local campaigns to get going on what needs to get done and to do it in a way that produces the best results. We have to break the vicious cycles that have eroded our local organizing capacity and get as many of our volunteers into virtuous cycles that lead to victory. In that way, should the winds blow in our favour we’ll be better-positioned to drive the advantage home. There’s no way to know how exactly the next election will unfold but there is no question we have to work are hardest and smartest between now and then if we want to succeed.

What would you say to undecided voters/delegates if they asked you why you felt you were best qualified to run for this position, or why do you think you can handle the VP Organization tasks and duties?

I would ask them to talk to those who’ve worked with me. They’ll tell you that I am first to the fight and the last to leave every time. They will tell you what I care about is empowering others to achieve results and manage those who stymie a team’s effectiveness. Part of the empowerment aspect of the position is trusting those on the ground to help us win and not being afraid let them try new things and learn what does and does not work. But it is also about ensuring they are given the best understanding we can offer of what works so they aren’t tackling challenges that have already been solved. Instead, they can spend their time winning.

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