Five steps for campaigning:
1. Contact your county board of elections.
2. Create your "stump speech."
3. Share your message.
4. Be yourself -- but be your best self.
5. Get out the vote.
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You Should Run for Office
Five easy steps for campaigning
By Damon Circosta
Published: Apr. 27, 2009
RALEIGH - We have all been there. Perhaps we read an article in the paper about what the city council has planned, or maybe our kid has come home from school with a note about the most recent boneheaded policy decision by the school board.
At some point in our lives nearly every one of us has seen a decision made by our government and thought, “Hey, I can do better than that.” While most of us have had this thought, rarely do we act on it.
Public service is a sacrifice. Complaints are common and praise is scant. It isn’t easy to stand for election, but as George Bernard Shaw once said, “Democracy is a device that ensures we shall be governed no better than we deserve.”
So if you have ever had a notion that your input could make things a little better, perhaps it is time to consider a run for office. It might seem a bit daunting, but when you get into the nuts and bolts of running an election it really isn’t all that scary. In fact a successful campaign isn’t much more than five easy steps.
First, call your county board of elections. They have all sorts of information on running for office. Ask them about the process for getting on the ballot, filing dates, campaign finance reports and other compliance measures necessary to ensure your campaign runs smoothly.
Second, put together a “stump speech.” You will be asked many times to discuss your reasons for running and why you should be elected. Your speech doesn’t need to remind anyone of Lincoln’s second inaugural, but it should be sincere, thoughtful and succinct.
Third, find ways to let people know about your campaign. Tip O’Neil, the legendary speaker of the U.S. House, once said “All politics are local.” Talk to your neighbors. Ask local clubs and organizations you belong to for a few minutes at the next meeting. By all means, participate in any forums or debates. Community organizations clamor to hear from candidates, so make yourself available.
Although many a campaign consulting career has been furthered by making sophisticated campaign plans, winning campaigns boil down to the same thing: a compelling message that finds its way into the mind of the most voters.
Fourth, hone your skills. In this era of prepackaged campaigns and plastic candidates, voters want office seekers to just “be themselves.” That said, it is important to present to the electorate the best aspects of your personality.
Both new candidates and seasoned hands can benefit from a little training. The N.C. Center for Women in Public Service has an excellent training program to prepare women to seek and serve in office. Political parties also offer assistance.
Fifth and finally, get ready for Election Day. Campaigns are won and lost on the strength of their get-out-the-vote effort. Having poll greeters and a team to remind supporters to vote can make all the difference. Don’t neglect the after-election party. Make sure that win or lose, your supporters know how much you appreciate their hard work.
When I was 20 years old I ran for city council in my hometown. Although I wasn’t successful, the campaign piqued my interest in policy and legislation. It persuaded me to pursue a law degree and it was in law school that I met my wife.
Even if you aren’t successful in getting elected, running for office can bring about good things. Offering voters an alternative is a valuable public service, and the very process of a campaign can lead you places you never knew you wanted to go.