Many people believe that elections are just popularity contests. I disagree. It’s more of a recognition contest than anything. Standing for an office is a noble goal. These ideas should work best if a potential candidate starts years ahead just by being a good citizen. The following are some points for candidates to consider when deciding to run for an elected office:
Family support —
Regardless of what office that a potential candidate may seek, the first thing he or she must do is get his family to support him. This is paramount. After all he will miss much time at home while he attends endless meetings, planning sessions, conferences or rallies. A few years ago I spoke with a friend who the voters elected as an Iredell County commissioner. I asked how much time he spent per week on commissioner-related tasks. He told me he spent about 10 to 15 hours per week talking with voters in person or by telephone about their needs. Without your complete family support, one might lose that close bond and become a stranger to them.
Talk to the voters —
If you speak with enough ordinary voters you will learn what troubles them the most. With that information you can plan a strategy to resolve that problem. Consider how other towns and counties do things. It’s better to stick to a few issues than to offer uninformed opinions. Without analysis, raw information may be as useful as a box of rocks.
Voters do not
elect strangers —
A candidate who seeks feedback from just a few voters is like one of the blind men in Kipling’s poem trying to understand an elephant from just a trunk, a leg or the tail of this massive animal. A candidate should travel his entire district to buy or interact with merchants in stores, diners, coffee shops and grocery stores. One cup of diner coffee may yield 100 times the cost in ideas or contracts.
Attend church regularly —
If possible attend several church events per month. One might consider serving on a church committee or, if elected, as a deacon or elder. You can do good work in your church and your family will benefit too.
Join the local chamber of commerce —
If you own a business, it is imperative that you participate. Most chambers have several business receptions after hours every month. Also many chambers have business expos or street fairs. If possible, exhibit at the business fair or host an after-hours event. Attend as many of these as you can work into your schedule.
Join a service club like the Rotary Club, Kiwanis or the Civitans —
These groups consist of most local leaders in the town. You will learn quite a bit about what is happening before it becomes public knowledge. These members are good citizens who regularly vote.
public speaker —
Most groups, clubs and charities need speakers for programs. If you have a unique business or hobby you might present that to a group for their entertainment. Public speaking is not easy for most people, but with practice one can become better at this art. Check the internet for Toastmasters or Dale Carnegie training.
Write newspaper articles —
Whether one writes an opinion piece or an article about some event in local history, most people will know your name. A political candidate needs to let people know where he or she stands. Writing an article gives these voters a chance to get to know you and hear what you believe on a particular subject.
Attend local fundraising events
A few years ago I had a business selling imprinted promotional products. I attended a local volunteer fire department barbecue and met three men who were waiting for barbecue. We chatted like men do. One was running for judge, another was running for N.C. State House and the third was a business man. I told them what I did and passed out my card. All three men became my customers because they had upcoming elections or an event and needed political posters or giveaways. You can meet loads of people at these events plus enjoy delicious home-cooked food.