With five weeks to go, nominations close today for the local elections on 3rd May.
Canvassing is now well underway and I've knocked on around 400 doors in the Bonnyrigg ward. Although so far I've mainly been covering areas where we traditionally pick up support, the response has been amazing. Yesterday while out leafletting, someone came up to me saying he wanted to vote for me but will be going on holiday on 2nd May. I popped round with a couple of postal vote application forms and while chatting, someone else cycled past and stopped to say he and his wife will be giving me their first preference votes after I'd spoken to them on the doorstep the previous day.
I also now have a few people who have offered to display a Vote Green window poster - important as the council has now banned lamppost placards.
If elected, there'll be no time for a rest - I have a growing list of issues people have spoken to me about and I've taken their contact details and will be taking up their cases immediately.
There's a lot of hard work to do over the next five weeks. A three member ward is hard for Greens to break into and there is still a lot of what I call 'tribal' voters - those who vote Labour or SNP by habit and for no other reason. However, most of those seem happy to give me a second or third preference, which could give me a crucial boost once one of the two Labour or SNP candidates is elected and their running mate eliminated during the count. Getting enough first preferences is the priority though, to stay in the count and pick up those transfers.
Five years ago I only canvassed 40% of the ward - those areas where we are most likely to pick up support. This time I'm adding on a few areas where we need to break into the Lab/SNP vote, and yesterday I was in one such street. The result was very encouraging, including the offer of a window poster and a warm reception on most doorsteps.
People want change. The consistent message I'm getting is that the councillors they have are not worth voting for, but they only vote for one lot because they dislike the other lot even more. That makes my job of persuading people to vote for us much easier, of course, but it makes me even more determined to prove that Green councillors are different. Without the tribal vote, Greens have to work hard to get elected, and we have to work hard to get re-elected; and that can only be good for those we hope to represent.