Week 1 – February 28 to March 6

This project has already changed so many times since I conceived of it and I am sure it will change more still, but it had one rule. That rule was that I would post the first one today, the 10 year anniversary of me filling to run for mayor of Toronto. 

For now this is a podcast about that experience. Below you’ll find that audio, followed by the tweet and radio interview I reference. Below that is the transcript of the audio. 

I’ve shared this pretty limitedly so if you’re reading this, it’s because I trust you so please be kind. That said open to feedback.

Proof I was in fact at a scouting conference that weekend.

Transcript – Because some of us would rather read

I can feel the words stacking up in the back of my throat. The three-sentence version of this  story is sitting right there, just waiting to pour out. I’ve had the same conversation so many times that it would take no effort at all to let that same version spill from my lips.

That version of the story isn’t real, though. It’s not a lie, but it’s a polished version of the truth. With all the hard edges buffed away.

This time, I’m going to tell the long version of the story—or try. The vulnerable version of the story. I’m not sure I’ve ever done that. I certainly haven’t done it all at once or in public. By the time the 2014 election ended, I was burnt out and overwhelmed. I wanted nothing to do with the internet and politics and media and also I had no idea how to do anything else. Not to mention it turned out that I wasn’t done, there was still an audit to be done, tax receipts to send out, and financial disclosure to file. Not to mention I’d see a judge before doing all that. Not that when I finished the election, I knew any of that. Regardless, I was kind of over being the girl that ran for mayor, and yet that was still kind of all I knew how to be. I’d been doing it for so long—8 months feels like a long time when you’re 18. Now it has been exactly 10 years since I filed and I’m finally ready to talk about it, well, I think.

But let’s start at the beginning.

It is ten years to the day today that I filed to run for mayor of Toronto. It was my third try—this time I finally had all the right pieces of paper. I didn’t the first two times. I paid the $200 filing fee with babysitting money. I was smart enough to know that if I did get any traction, I needed not to answer the question of how I paid the filing fee with ‘my parent’s money’. My Twitter archive revealed there was apparently an extended conversation about my name which I had completely forgotten about but isn’t surprising. My parents’ choice to give me five names and call me by the middle one has always been an issue when interacting with bureaucracies. I managed to file on that third try and then I took a selfie outside the Election Services office at the City of Toronto. And did what every self-respecting mayoral candidate would do and posted it to twitter. I didn’t even include a hashtag, just the caption: the face of a mayoral candidate. And it was true. 

After that, I went back to the scouting conference I had ducked out of to file—because of course, I did. Because I felt very cetain that no one would notice that I was running for mayor and I was expected back so it was a no-brainer to return to the conference. I was staying at the Westin on the waterfront with hundreds of other scouts and scouters for a conference that I believe was about leadership—if memory serves. In an amusing turn of events, I ended up leading a walking tour of downtown Toronto for a group of scouts and scouters the following evening, filled with history tidbits and fun facts because I really do love this city. And the evening after that I helped lead a campfire on Toronto island during a truly wicked cold snap. It was so cold we couldn’t take the ferry and had to take TTC busses from Billy Bishop to Snake Island, something I have not even done since. 

Somewhat awkwardly, and I really should’ve predicted this, people did pay attention. I almost immediately had my first media request, Newstalk1010, and John Lorinc looked at my website—shit I wonder if that is how you pronounce his last name— and noticed all of my typos. My attention was fairly divided for the rest of the weekend. 

That first version of my website is no longer live and isn’t immortalized by the Wayback Machine, which in both cases is probably for the best. The spelling was truly egregious and I absolutely should have had at least one person read it before I put it on the internet. My writing is still full of typos but now I ask people to edit things before I share them. 

The tagline on that first version of my website was “Just one girl trying to change the world, starting with her hometown”. Which while not the most effective campaign slogan, remains in many ways true about me. My campaign evolved over time and so did my website to be more like a real campaign—whatever that means—and less like an 18-year-old in her bedroom. But the thing I still like about it is how deeply earnest it is. It’s charming to want to change the world and it’s adorable to refer to a city of millions of people as your ‘hometown’. I do still want to change the world, though I am signifigantly pragmatic about it now, and I no longer lead with that information. I also no longer ever refer to Toronto as my hometown because it turns out people kind of hate that—and fair enough—but I definitely still think about it that way. 

That first interview, which was exactly a week after I filed, is still available on Soundcloud—I’ll link it below, what am I on YouTube?—listening to it again this week I was both impressed and cringed so hard. I’m not sure I really said anything of substance, but I was impressively chill, especially with the live callers. I’m also charmed by the hubris of youth, the confidence is admirable even if nothing else is.

Things really got rolling that following week and then didn’t stop until the election—or at least it fel that way—and really months after election day. Eventually, I started university and I stopped using Twitter. People stopped asking me to write or speak and running for mayor became the best two truths and a lie fact I have ever encountered.

It’s pretty weird even now to have your 15 minutes of fame before you can even drink legally— and before I knew how to drive even though I could’ve legally done that—and it was even weirder in 2014. That time in my life is filled with some very hard moments and some truly hilarious ones. I want to finally process all that happened, or at least try. I’ve downloaded my Twitter archive and scrolled back in my Google results. I’m digging through old emails and excavating memories. I’m going to work my way through the 2014 election week by week. 

I’ve got lots of questions for that 18-year-old and I’ve got questions for other players in that election. I have bigger questions too. What makes a young person exceptional? Who decides that they are exceptional? What makes a good politician? What happens when you find your calling before you find yourself? I’m not sure I will find any of the answers but I’m at least going to look around. 

Next week on my itsy bitsy podcast: what happened before I decided to run? how did I make that decision? my first TV spot, the deep awkwardness of filming b-roll, about those cat eye glasses. 

A lot has happened in the last ten years, some of it amazing and some of it terrible. SO let’s talk about it.

Well, thanks for indulging me.