Millennials Making the Difference on Bortolin Campaign
The campaign to elect Rino Bortolin in Windsor West is powered by millennials.
According to the Bortolin campaign, millennial voters outnumber baby boomers for the first time in an Ontario election. They feel millennials can make a real difference in the outcome of an election if they exercise their right to vote.
The campaign to elect Rino Bortolin, Liberal candidate in Windsor West, is powered by millennials who have come from all parts of the riding to volunteer to help get him elected.
“While I have worked on many community projects before, this is my first time volunteering on a provincial campaign” says 31 year old Leonardo Manuel Gil. “In many ways the energy and excitement from this campaign is similar to that of a grassroots community project. There’s a sense of urgency, a clear understanding that the end goal will result in the voices of people normally forgotten to be finally heard.”
“Unlike the campaigns of the other major parties, we do not have out-of-town Party staff working on our campaign,” says Sami Mazloum, 38, Bortolin’s campaign manager. Mazloum says that while the campaign has attracted volunteers from all demographics, millennials are playing a big role. “I think young people are drawn to this campaign because he isn’t politics as usual. He’s a candidate who is fighting for what Windsor can be rather than the status quo.”
The Bortolin Campaign suggests that according to last available data from Statistics Canada (2015) for Windsor, there are 56,235 people between the ages of 20 and 39. There are 49,745 people between 55 and 74 years of age, known as the baby boomer generation.
“It’s amazing to see so many people— like me—who weren’t involved in provincial politics but engaged within the community, come together to support Rino. There’s a vitality to the campaign and it’s infectious” says Alicia Higgison, 35 and a mother of three girls.
Higgison is part of the campaign’s social media team and also canvasses, knocking on doors and talking to voters. “I think our team’s energy stems from Rino’s inspiringly hardworking leadership.
I can see myself in what he does, in how he works. There’s a place for me in Rino’s campaign, there’s a place for me in Windsor, there’s a place for me in politics,” she says.
“It’s been a lot of fun to be part of a campaign where young people have a voice and a say in the strategic direction,” says, Sarah Morris, 27, who heads up the campaign’s social canvass strategy. “Young people can see that he knows our issues and we see him stand up for the things that matter to us. He is the kind of guy that reminds us that politics touches everything we do and when we work together, we work better.”
Morris points to the campaign’s social media presence as one way the campaign’s millennial energy shows through. “We’re seeing support come in through Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. It adds a different level of shared engagement and support. So much hard work happens behind the scenes during an election, our social media presence is bringing that to the forefront. You can see the level of dedication happening through photos and posts in the campaign office, at events, and knocking on doors. The public is getting to know our team and our supporters in a fun, real way.”
Sarah Mushtaq, 26, also part of the communications team, says she is working on Bortolin’s campaign because it’s a campaign team that is reflective of the residents of Windsor West and she sees him as a politician who would stand by his principles. “I think young people often are turned away from politics because of what is perceived to be the stereotypical politician,” says Mushtaq. “Rino’s track record as a City Councillor shows very strongly he is not that kind of elected official. What he says he will do is what he will fight to do. That is refreshing.”
Sarah Cipkar, 27, is Canvass Chair on Bortolin’s campaign. “With our current political landscape being so full of cynicism, this campaign and Rino himself, have renewed my hope that being involved in politics is about making a real, lasting, and positive difference in the lives of those in our community.”
Jeff Szuz, 32, owns a small software consulting business. “I am on Rino’s team because his history of fighting on city council for a livable Windsor for every resident proves that he’ll stick his neck out for Windsor and he’ll do it on issues that matter to all of us”.
Bortolin’s campaign says includes Ontario’s newest voters, says Mazloum, pointing to the large number of Gen Z volunteers on the team.
Chris Reid, 24, is a chemical engineer who has been canvassing and putting up signs for Bortolin’s campaign. “I realized that if we don’t support good people who have excellent track records and are genuinely concerned about the issues we have, we will continue to have our voice overruled at the table. I want politicians who work tirelessly to continue pushing forward in a positive direction, not those who hold us back” he says.
Olga Politis, 23, a registered nurse, helped plan the campaign office which includes a children’s area to ensure parents of young children could fully participate. She says she’s involved in the election because the issues that are determined at the provincial level are vital to her generation. “If we are not involved, I think we will lose out on the chance to actually make the world around us a better place,” she says.
Tom Lucier, owner of Phog Lounge, wanted to be part of this story but did not fit any of the aforementioned demographics.
Mazloum says young people can make a real difference in this election but it will all depend on how many of them get out to vote.