Where’s the tech-savvy mayor for a tech savvy town?

Though Waterloo region has a solid crop of mayoral candidates this year, their online presence leaves much to be desired. • GRAPHIC COURTESY CREATIVE COMMONS
Though Waterloo region has a solid crop of mayoral candidates this year, their online presence leaves much to be desired. • GRAPHIC COURTESY CREATIVE COMMONS

Juliana Gomez

We’re proud to call Waterloo a technology hub, a leader in innovation and a future-facing city. We have a strong global presence with our institutions, our companies and our start-up culture.

You’d think that with such a tech-savvy community, our mayoral candidates would tune into this and make technology an important part of their campaign, showing their understanding of our community. Yet there is an incredible disconnect between the online presence of our potential future leaders and the tech-savvy reputation of K-W.

To begin, a quick Google search of the candidates’ names pulls up barely anything — you have to add “Kitchener” or “Waterloo” to find them. A typical search results in a few newspaper articles, but there is a lack of engaging resources from the candidates themselves to inform voters of who they are and their plans for our cities.

All candidates (save one) in both races have a presence on Twitter, with some coming in well above the others in their engagement.

When contacted personally, most candidates respond with a same-day turn around.

Only Rami Said and Erika Traub are using Facebook pages, but Said is only using it somewhat consistently.

In Waterloo, Said and Dave Jaworski have websites dedicated to their campaigns, however, both are text-heavy and lack interesting pictures or anything else that might convince a reader to stay on the page. Dave MacDonald and Traub have barely any information online other than the aforementioned newspaper articles.

In Kitchener, only Berry Vrbanovic has an official website. I was happy to see lots of pictures but horrified with a too-long “about me” formatted in a hard to read blue font. Vrbanovic did post his campaign speech to give browsers an idea of what he’s campaigning for, but there’s no way that I’m going to sit on my computer and read an eight-page document.

Speeches are meant to be read, never published online, unless they were so awesome that you had to.

While online presence is lacking, I’ll commend all candidates that I’ve engaged with on their eagerness to chat with me personally. All successful political campaigns have a personal touch to let voters know that they are more than a number.

However, this kind of political campaigning is not as effective on its own when populations increase. With a population nearing 300,000 there is no way that any candidate will talk with all of us.

This is why our candidates need to present themselves effectively and engagingly online. A successful election means that everyone, regardless of their commitment to municipal politics, has access to a candidate’s promises and experience.

Taking advantage of the resources of our region would make that information engaging, accessible and prove a real understanding of the population of Kitchener-Waterloo.

It’s 2014 and we live in the tech capital of Canada – why aren’t our candidates acting like it?