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Innovative campaigns prove effective for new Victoria councillors Lisa Helps amd Shellie Gudgeon

Nov 22 2011

Two of the lesser-known candidates elected to Victoria city council say hard work and innovative campaign strategies helped them win.

Lisa Helps and Shellie Gudgeon are joined by Ben Isitt as the newest councillors at city hall. While Isitt is well-known after unsuccessfully seeking the mayor's chair twice, Helps and Gudgeon were new to the political process.

Helps' campaign marketing included a multi-media strategy that incorporated Twitter, Facebook, door-knocking, videos posted to her website and even handwritten recommendations from supporters.

People who backed her wrote letters to friends declaring their support for the candidate, a marketing tool that Helps refers to as an "old-fashioned retweet."

"When people get a recommendation from their friends in a letter, it's like getting a retweet online," she said.

Gudgeon attributed her victory to hard work and determination. Plus, she has already built up a profile in the community by helping with several neighbourhood projects, including the revitalization of the area around Quadra Street and Hillside Avenue.

Her 20 years in the restaurant industry helped make her a familiar face. Gudgeon oversees operations at the II Terrazzo Ristorante and Fifth Street Bar and Grill.

"It became more evident that we, my husband and I, have connected with a lot of people in the last 20 years in this community," she said.

Both of the new councillors want to get moving on their political goals for this term.

Creating an infrastructure priority plan in the next three years will be Helps' primary goal. She wants to identify a list of projects, including bridges, fire halls, sewer systems and the proposed light rapid transit system, as well as creating a timeline for those projects based on the city's priorities.

Gudgeon's immediate goal is to look into regulations for boats moored in the Selkirk Waterway.

dspalding@timescolonist.com

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