YDATL Blog NOTE: The opinions expressed by our individual bloggers are their own, and not necessarily those of Young Democrats of Atlanta.
Monday, April 17, 2006
Ready to Run
Hey, are you interested in running for office at some point in your life?
Unless your answer was “oh HELL no,” then the time to get ready is now – even if you see a run as something in a distant, misty future. Nothing is predictable and the chance to run will come up when you least expect it. People retire, districts get redrawn, districts change character. If you aren’t ready to pull the trigger, then your golden opportunity may leave you behind – and thereby leave the rest of us without your leadership. For every single one of us, here are five action items I propose for those of us who one day aspire to make a run:
1) Figure out which offices you would like to hold
Would you be willing to serve in City Council? School Board? State House? State Senate? (Have you ever WATCHED a City Council Meeting? Not for the faint of heart.) Good Democrats are doing good work at every level of government. Identify a range of options you would be willing to pursue.
2) Get to know your district(s)
Once you have identified which offices you would be willing to hold, identify your district. How much do you know about your district? Do you know all the neighborhoods? What is the nature and character of those neighborhoods? Have you driven to each end – north, south, east, and west? Do you know where there are schools, hospitals, nursing homes, churches?
3) Make decisions that will increase your visibility across your district
No need to change your life just yet, but if you can kill two birds with one stone, then do it. For instance, if you are a regular volunteer at any organization outside your district, is it possible to do the same type of service inside your district? Can you become a regular patron at business inside your district, rather than outside? If you feel you have more time to give, think about associations and committees you can join within your district.
4) Make a list (physical or mental) of the first ten calls you would need to make
For nearly any race in the metro area, you will definitely need a paid campaign consultant. Start asking around about who does what kinds of campaigns, and who has a good reputation. Again, doesn’t have to be a major project, just keep your radar on for the types of folks who are offering this service. Also, think about which of your friends and associates could potentially write you checks, or offer some other type of key service, like serving as a campaign committee chair, or offer a key endorsement. It never hurts to do a few favors for people – mostly because it’s nice to do, but it helps to have a few to call in, too.
5) Let them know you’re on the bench
Is the current incumbent a solid, hard-working Dem? Then let them know you’re interested in serving one day. Emphasize you don’t want to challenge them for their seat, just that you would like to consider being his or her successor. Even if you don’t think you’re ready, it can’t hurt to let them know that someone talented is ready to take the baton when they are ready to hand off. Planting the seed could also encourage your current officeholder to reach out to you with learning and networking opportunities. Who knows, they might even dissuade challengers when the time comes by endorsing your candidacy.
We are never going to achieve our political goals unless good people serve as elected officials. Go ahead…put a toe in the water.