Elections 2020 Card with Bokeh Background
Both Maurice White and Stacie Wilke-McCulloch knew how to campaign when they filed for Carson City Ward 2 supervisor in March. White ran for the same office four years earlier and Wilke-McCulloch, a Carson City School Board trustee, is a campaign veteran, too.
“When I originally signed up to run it was Friday, the last day to do so. Everything was normal. I thought I’d be walking the neighborhood, shaking hands, kissing babies, fundraising,” said McCulloch.
That was March 13, the day after Gov. Steve Sisolak declared a state of emergency due to the coronavirus outbreak. But, it wasn’t clear until the following week, when the governor closed schools, the declaration’s impact.
Campaigning hasn’t been the same since.
White and Wilke-McCulloch are the last two candidates standing in the local races for Board of Supervisors. In the primary, Supervisor Lori Bagwell ran against four opponents in the race for Carson City mayor and garnered over 50 percent of the vote, giving her the early win. Lisa Schuette, too, exceeded the threshold to win in the primary after receiving 65 percent of the vote against two other contenders for Ward 4 supervisor. Four people ran for Ward 2 supervisor and White, who received about 35 percent of the vote, and McCulloch, who got roughly 31 percent, were the top two voter getters, sending them to the general election to vie for the office.
Both candidates are holding traditional campaign events this weekend. On Saturday, White is hosting a meet and greet at 4 p.m. at Mallard’s Restaurant at the Empire Ranch Golf Course, with guest host Jon Yuspa, founder of Honor Flight Nevada. And on Sunday, Wilke-McCulloch is holding a virtual get together at 6:30 p.m. that can be accessed by emailing email@example.com for login information.
Otherwise, campaigning during COVID has been anything but routine. And the candidates cite similar hurdles.
“Door knocking has been the biggest change. Until recently door knocking has been off the table.We have avoided pushing people's level of comfort in the area of personal contact with strangers,” said White. “I always enjoyed door knocking because you get to discuss what the people want to talk about on their time with their rules.”
That’s the most significant change for his opponent, too.
“The biggest thing to overcome is no face-to-face stuff, no door to door, no meet and greets, no fundraisers,” said Wilke-McCulloch. “I’m not a tech person or a social media person. This has been the biggest challenge for me, keeping up with it.”
Social media has been difficult for White, too.
“Making the change to using social media platforms has been the hardest adjustment. While I recognized it as essential in national campaigns, I had no clue how effective it would be for a local campaign,” he said. “Learning what makes an effective message for the different demographics has been a steep learning curve. For those people not in the ‘hot’ demographics it is harder for them to get the needed information to make an informed vote. Thankfully I have had some very smart people point me in the right direction.”
Despite the unusual circumstances, both candidates said there are upsides.
“It has given me time to really have one-on-one conversations via Zoom, Facetime, email, phone, with our community and city leaders, as well as residents,” said Wilke-McCulloch. “More time to get into the weeds, to learn more about Carson City and how it works and challenges that the city faces right now.”
“I don't think the old ways are gone, but we have added new elements to local campaigning. Of course these ‘new ways’ were already here, I just didn't recognize their usefulness in my efforts,” said White. “There is a silver lining in every cloud.”