Candidates juggle professional careers and the campaign

Paul Bocking
First-time candidate for Toronto City council, Paul Bocking takes time off from his regular jobs to campaign in the election. (AGLIPAYPaul BockingSHOT_E)

Paul Bocking needs to pick up a stack of papers waiting in his office at York University.

He still plans to take a few months off from working on his PhD in economic geography, grading papers and meeting students once a week.

Thanksgiving Monday, was a day of marathon marking. It’s one of the few days he is taking off in October before election day.

“My supervisor was very understanding,” Bocking said. “They were OK with me taking a few months off basically doing no work on my PhD.”

Paul Bocking is a first-time candidate for city council in Ward 35 (Scarborough Southwest). He’s also learning how to balance campaigning and with his regular professional career during the Toronto municipal election.

In addition to his work on the PhD, he’s an occasional teacher with the Toronto District School Board. Up until June he was teaching at Humberside Collegiate Institute, but chose not to take any teaching positions to focus on his campaign.

“It’s challenging not to be able to work a lot during my campaign,” he said. “I’m lucky my rent isn’t very high. I’ve been able to put some savings aside.”

Bocking’s mother, Rita Furgiuele, says Bocking has juggled more than one thing at a time before.

“I knew it would be a really difficult road for him, but he’s had a lot of support too,” Furgiuele said, adding that because of his busy schedule, she’s happy to spend time with her son by canvassing with him.

Charm Darby is contesting Ward ...
Charm Darby is contesting the council seat in Ward 16 while juggling another career. (AGLIPAYPICCharm Darby_E)

Across the city in Ward 16 (Eglinton-Lawrence), Charm Darby is using her vacation days from her job as a financial advisor at Scotiabank to put all her energy into her campaign for councillor.

The time she had to dedicate to her campaign for city council this year is vastly different from her first candidacy in 2006. That year, Darby was working as a civilian with Toronto Police Services, but had to leave her position to run for city council. She credits her experience in 2006 for helping her decide where to focus her time and energy this time round.

“In the mornings before I go to work, at 7:30 in the morning, my campaign manager and I would be out campaigning so I could be in my office by 8:30,” Darby said. “I’m doing things that are much more meaningful and getting much more value.”

Both Bocking and Darby agree the most important way to spend their time is meeting residents and having a visible presence in the ward.

For Bocking, that has meant canvassing every night after the provincial election in June.

“In this ward, that’s what matters,” Bocking said. “People always say they want to meet the candidate.”

For Darby, increasing visibility has meant putting up a billboard at Yonge Street and Yonge Boulevard.

“It’s a street stopper. You go to major intersections, you use your time more efficiently because you realize that people need to see you out there,” Darby said.