Sunday, February 14, 2021

Have you thought about running for public office?

Running for public office political campaign

You see public officials on the news, you follow them on Twitter and YouTube. You see the campaigns videos and yard signs. Did you ever ask yourself, "Why can't I do this?" "What's it about?" and “How does one go about running for public office?”

Here are some pointers:

Get your family and friends to support you

This is probably the most important, especially if you have a significant other, and people who depend on you, in your life. Campaigning is hard. It takes time. It takes money. It takes building a personal network in your community. This takes effort, hard effort, which will eat into your personal life. Make sure those in your life are on board with your decision. You WILL need their buy in, commitment and support as you move forward.

Get involved in your local community

A first step is to get engaged locally to raise your visibility and your personal brand. Political campaigning is networking, marketing and self promotion. Voters and residents need to see you and the value you bring to the table for them to consider voting for you. You will benefit from having those voters view your in a positive light. The old adage “You Never Get a Second Chance to Make a Good First Impression” is key.

If you live in a small rural community (like Washington Borough New Jersey) good moves are:

  1. Joining the local Parent Teacher Association;
  2. Volunteering to be a coach for a kid’s sports team;
  3. Running for the local school district’s Board of Education;
  4. Being appointed to your local government’s committees, e.g. Land Use/Zoning

In all steps, take a positive, constructive approach to the work. Remember, you want people to look at you as someone who is reliable, authentic and cares about the community in which you and they live.

Attend local political party committee meetings

You need to find people who have done this work before, to learn from them how to go about an activity that is new for you. You will need mentors so you know how to make proper decisions. You will also need to understand local and state regulations that govern how candidates are put on ballots, financial reporting and disclosure regulations, and timetables.

Local political party committees (and clubs) have people who know the ins and outs of running for local and state office. They have the skills, talents and practical experience that can be shared. Most, if not all, have web sites and social media pages. For example, search on “Washington Borough NJ Democrats” or “Warren County NJ Democratic Committee” or “New Jersey State Democratic Committee” to find the contacts.

And, importantly, after you make the local political committee connections, you will need to ....

Find a campaign manager and treasurer

Here is where the rubber starts to meet the road, so to speak. Finding a seasoned campaign manager, and treasurer, is key since they will be your go to people for campaign organization, and tracking the funds.

The campaign manager will be your key person to schedule campaign activities, find volunteers and coach you through this process.

The treasurer role is important since campaign finances are regulated by state laws, and can carry penalties if proper reporting and record maintenance are not performed.

And of course your role will be to continue to build those personal relationships with your constituents, tell them about yourself, what you bring to the table and convince them that you are better than the opposition. Remember, do not be afraid or shy to ASK THEM FOR THEIR VOTE.

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