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Calgary Election: the seedy underbelly of door knocking for a municipal election

Metro investigates the secret life of municipal campaign door knockers

Calgary election hopefuls share some door knocking experiences from their campaigns for the Oct. 16 municipal election.

Jennifer Friesen / For Metro

Calgary election hopefuls share some door knocking experiences from their campaigns for the Oct. 16 municipal election.

Knock, knock. Who’s there?

Candidates, volunteers and constituents are all coming together in a charming process called door knocking.

This municipal election campaign has weathered many seasons leading up to Oct. 16. And different ward and mayoral candidates have continuously returned reporters’ phone calls with a “sorry I missed your call, I was busy at the doors.”

But what’s it really like to canvass the city’s communities? Metro talked to a couple candidates about their weird, endearing and fascinating door knocking stories.

For starters, Ward 11 candidate Linda Johnson has lost 10 pounds, despite the freezies and popsicles she shared with community members on the hot days, or the treats and warm-ups she took for frigid weather.

“People like you coming to the door, they’re hesitant at first, but I’m always surprised by the people who say I only have a minute and then 10 minutes later you’re wishing you had more time with them,” said Johnson.

Jeff Davison in Ward 6 said door knocking is about putting yourself out there as a candidate, making yourself accessible and meeting people — but there are some interesting stories behind each door.

“I remember one guy, he was so thrilled to see me at his door he went in the house ... he brings out his wife and brings out moonshine,” Davison said, adding he couldn’t accept the spirits. “I just started, I can’t have moonshine at 10 a.m.”

Davison did go back later to try the moonshine. He said there were times where people answered doors in towels, or underwear.

“Why did you answer the door?” he said, adding that sometimes people do want to have a conversation while standing behind a door. “You have this totally awkward conversation with, you know, somebody who’s not wearing pants, or a shirt.”

Johnson said since filing nomination papers she’s actually had people approach her while she’s been in between houses on the street, asking her questions and telling her about their visits to her website where they found more information.

But what surprised her most were the moments constituents opened up about their struggles.

“I’m a stranger, and they’re willing to open up,” said Johnson. “It just reminds me to represent all the residents.”

Davison said he’s been surprised by the level of engagement by constituents he’s met, and the level of passion Calgarians have for their civic election.

Johnson said the only thing she hopes is that readers will set aside two to three minutes with a candidate at the door because they’re sincere in wanting to know what’s on constituents’ minds, and the odds of finding someone at home are few and far between.

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