WASHINGTON D.C. — Many people doubt they are qualified to run for public office; but in most cases, they are. In fact, according to Slate Magazine, they should: “You, with the undocumented parents; you, who remembers when your town was a steel town; you, PTA regular; you, professor; you, concerned citizen, should run.”
There are several reasons to run for office. A lot of people have the thought that if something is wrong, then someone should do something about it — why shouldn’t that someone be you? Slate Magazine talked to two Kansas legislatators, Patsy Terrell and Brett Parker, and Parker described the relatable way of how his political career got started:
“The advice I would give to people thinking about running [for office]is that you’re more capable of it than you think,” Parker says. “If you’re new to it, it feels daunting, it feels like something for people who’ve wanted to run for office since they were in second grade. But there were a great many of us around Kansas who didn’t think about it until we saw how bad things were getting and said, ‘Well someone should do something about that.’ And if you look around long enough, eventually you go, ‘Oh, well maybe that someone should be me.'”
But give it some thought first. Howtorunforoffice.org has a list of things to consider:
- Holding office is time-consuming and labor intensive.
- Meet with family members to see how they feel. Once elected, there will be less time to spend with them.
- Running for public office can be expensive.
- Both the candidate and family members will be in the public eye.
- Skeletons in the closet? Learn how to deal with situations where past actions may be discussed in the community.
- Candidate backgrounds will be published and announced at “Meet the Candidate” events. A degree in political science isn’t necessary, but high school drop outs may not be taken seriously.
- Check the requirements for the position in consideration.
Thankfully, technology has made running for office easier. A website called Next in Office helps candidates interact with the community. By setting up a profile and discussing local issues and ideas to improve or solve problems, candidates can save their and their constituents’ time by making the candidate’s position and what he or she would like to accomplish easily accessible. Gauging the communities’ reactions to the candidate can help save time and money before filing documents to run for office.
If the reaction on Next in Office is positive, then the following tips will help when running for office:
- Review the legal documents, rules and fees required for the position. These may include affidavit of candidacy, address of residence form, filing period, filing fees, withdrawal, write-in votes, campaign lawn signs, disclaimer requirements, supreme court ruling on corporate political expenditures, compatibility of offices and campaign forms and handouts.
- Visit one of the county political party offices in the area and inform them about the desire to run for office so they can offer advice. Next, go to a county government office and start the process of filing paperwork and paying fees.
A website called politicalcampaigningtips.com also offers advice useful for running for office. It both encourages those who aspire to be elected to a high office, and also reminds that the path to election victory will not be easy. A good way to start a career in politics is to begin local and try for a school board, city council or county council position.
– Gloria Diaz