November 30th, 2020 12:00am
Do you want to make a real difference in your community? Do you want to actively ensure that other people with disabilities are represented in government? If you answered “yes” to these questions, you should give some serious thought to running for office! The disabled community is one of the most underrepresented populations in politics. But if you feel called, you just need these helpful tips and tricks for running your campaign efficiently and ensuring your success:
Think Small Before You Think Big
Like so many youngsters, maybe you wanted to become president as a kid, but setting your sights on such a grand office is like setting yourself up for a major disappointment. So unless you have the millions of dollars Policy Genius says you’ll need, or you’re already experienced with national politics, you may want to start with a much smaller office.
Running for local office can be a perfect fit for folks who already have experience in law enforcement, education, or public policy because there are quite a few segues they can take from a private career to public service using skills and connections earned in those realms. Even if you don’t have experience in these fields, running for a local position is guaranteed to be less involved and less costly. Plus, if you fall in love with politics, you can always aim for a higher position after your first term.
Research Your Area’s Election Laws
Before you get to the exciting stuff, like talking with voters, you have to work through a few tedious tasks. To start, you will want to check your state’s secretary of state website to see what sort of election laws will impact your political campaign. This is a crucial step because if you end up breaking one of these laws, even if it’s unintentional, you could face hefty fines and even disqualification.
In addition to researching state laws, you should also determine what sort of rules and regulations will govern your local race. You can usually find these by visiting the website of whichever entity you would work for if elected. For example, prospective school board members can check their school district’s website or direct questions towards applicable district staff.
Hire Your Political Dream Team
Whew, that’s already a lot of work, and your campaign hasn’t even started! Before you begin to feel overwhelmed and throw in the towel, Victory Guide explains that hiring a campaign staff can take many of the remaining election tasks off of your plate. Namely, you will want a campaign manager who can keep you and your team organized, and this person can be a staff member or even a volunteer. Just make sure your campaign manager can take charge and keep everyone focused on helping you win.
Speaking of winning, you’re also going to need a winning website to encourage people to vote for you. So also think about hiring a freelance web developer to create a site that will wow voters. You can find freelancers via job boards; just search for candidates with the right credentials, then review their portfolios and perform interviews to find the right addition to your team.
Start Connecting With Your Constituents
If you hired the right campaign manager and staff, your work should consist of getting out and networking with community members from here on out. There are several outlets you can use to connect with potential voters, including phone calls, canvassing, and public speaking.
If that last one made you a bit anxious, know that you’re not alone. Public speaking tends to make most people nervous, especially if you deal with social anxiety. You can work off some of your nervous energy by taking a walk or practicing some belly breaths before a speech. If you want to connect with even more voters, you can also hire a sign language service to interpret your public speeches.
Seeing all the particulars, you’ll have to consider in a run for office can be overwhelming. If you read this and feel completely unprepared to throw your hat in the ring just yet, you can always build your skills, connections, and confidence now as a bridge to the future. Maybe you volunteer with several community organizations, or perhaps you work toward an advanced degree or certification. You can even try working in the public sector to get a feel for public service.
So there you have it! Now you’re ready to hit the ground running and start your political career. If you still feel too nervous, know that you can always volunteer with a campaign instead. This could even provide the experience and motivation you need to run for office in the future.
Charles F. Glassman, MD, has developed tools, products, strategies, and resources to help you achieve total wellness.
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