Words by Carly Heffernan

Take a deep breath. Smell that? That’s the sweet smell of an upcoming election. (Unless you’re reading this while on break at the sewage plant—in that case it’s just sewage so I apologize, but thank you for reading!) It smells like a mix of hope, fear, sweat, tears and more photo ops than a bachelorette party at 2:00 a.m. Who could win? Who should win? Who will win and why?

Long before this fall’s political perfume, I formed the belief that elections are merely adult popularity contests. It’s with that in mind that I offer candidates my notion on the key to success this October: stop thinking of Mississauga as a city and start thinking of Mississauga as a high school.

It just makes sense. The streets of Mississauga are freakishly parallel to the halls of any high school from an ’80s flick. You’ve got the Living Arts Centre and Meadowvale Theatre for the artsy drama kids to hang out. You’ve got Square One and Erin Mills Town Centre for the cool kids with credit cards, and I guarantee the many parks are regular hangouts for your standard weed-smokin’ Spicoli types. It’s big, it’s busy and the same elderly person has been in charge for as long as any of the occupants can remember. As former cotreasurer of the Sun Valley Secondary School student council, allow me to share some expert advice. Here are the three keys to making you the most popular kid at “Mississauga High”!

Homemade Posters
Nothing is more endearing than the idea of an adult staying up all night crafting up a storm, using construction paper, bubble letters and more glitter than a face painting station at World Pride; it’s freaking adorable! The public imagines you drunk from fatigue in your campaign jammies—you know, the ones with the little cartoons supporting social programs on them—carefully cutting and pasting a little bit of yourself into each and every homemade handbill.

People like a personal touch, and I’m not just talking about socially awkward middle-aged men. You know what doesn’t have a personal touch? Those glossy, bulk-purchased, Kinko’s-printed flyers that one of your nameless, faceless supporters just shoved on my windshield!

Cool Themes
Election season is basically the prom of politics, and you have to have a cool theme, but not “Under the Sea” or “Happily Ever After” or even “One Night en Paris”; I’m talking municipal themes. Are you going to “Tackle Transit” or “Go Green”? Are you the candidate who’s all about “Manufacturing More Manufacturing,” or is it “Time to Talk Tourism”? Whatever your theme is, you need to love it and live it—because political prom is not over after one magical night where all your dreams come true and you finally get to kiss a boy. It’s four years of long hours and hard work, and if you haven’t kissed a boy by now, well, it’s not going to happen.

Money, Money, Money
The hottest topic in any election is and will continue to be how to stimulate economic growth and prosperity. You can talk tax hikes and you can talk privatization, but every 16-year-old knows what the holy trinity of money makers is: a bake sale, a car wash, and a dunk tank.

That’s it, three easy steps to being the coolest kid—a.k.a. a winner on October 27—at Mississauga High. Take it or leave it, but remember this—somebody’s got to put more vending machines in the caf; follow these steps and that somebody could be you.

carly1Carly Heffernan is an actor, writer, improviser and alumni of Second City Toronto. She was a member of the award-winning Sketchersons and continues to party onstage at various comedy venues.