No, I’m not running but here are tips on how to get started

In Spring 2017, I was flattered and thrilled to have a writer friend refer me to BUST Magazine for a freelance gig on how to run for office. “Don’t Get Mad, Get Elected: The How-To Guide For Launching A Political Campaign” sketches out most if not all the major, and several more minor considerations to give a run for an elected seat. It also includes quotes with advice from Ohio state legislators Nickie Antonio (now candidate for the Ohio State Senate), Janine Boyd (HD9), Emilia Strong Sykes (HD34) and Stephanie Howse (HD11), as well as Colorado statehouse Representative (and now Colorado state Senate candidate trying to turn that chamber blue) Faith Winter, Alejandra Campoverdi, former Congressional Candidate and women’s health advocate (and the first-ever White House Deputy Director of Hispanic Media, beginning in the Obama administration and no, the current occupant doesn’t have one) and Sara Spock Carlson, who ran for the first time and won her race to be a Ferguson Township (PA) Supervisor.

There’s also a lengthy sidebar with links to organizations across the country and for a wide variety of (primarily left-leaning but also a few non-partisan) organizations determined to get more women into political, elected offices. I’m biased in recommending this article not just because I wrote it, but because I lived it from 2009 through 2016, either as a candidate or running a campaign.

January 1 and the new year number of 2018 can be terrifying, thrilling and enormous opportunities all at the same time if you’re wondering, what more can I do and where do I start. Maybe you’re past that – if 2017 didn’t move you, I have no worries about 2018 having the potential to do so. But no matter where you’re thinking about running, please, save yourself time, money and aggravation by using definitive, trustworthy sources to understand the parameters of the race or races you’re considering:

  1. The Ohio Secretary of State’s website has nearly all of the legislative maps you need to see. However, they’re pretty poor when it comes to identifying the specific communities (and streets, and addresses) located in whichever political subdivision you’re running in. For even more detail, look at this document, the actual apportionment plan adopted and enacted in 2011 that governs elections from 2012-2022 and I could find only on now. It lists the communities, wards and even street parameters.
  2. For another possibly easier to use resource, Cleveland State University has NODIS where you can find excellent, specific maps of legislative districts.
  3. The county board of elections will have maps of cities, towns and villages by ward and precinct. For Cuyahoga, you can find them here. You can also bulk download the name, address and voting record of every registered voter here.
  4. Timelines – check out calendars at the SOS site.
  5. If you’re running for office and want partisan involvement (support in any form), you need to understand how the local and state parties work. That includes learning about precinct committee people, the central committee members, the executive committee members, city leaders, ward leaders and Democratic clubs. It is a lot – especially if you were thinking, I just want to serve – why do I have to deal with all this party stuff? FWIW, here’s the county Dem party site and the state Dem site (county GOP – looking rather Russian!? – is here and state GOP here).
  6. Check out the competition on the board of elections’ website. For Cuyahoga County, you want to go to this page. Remember though, even with the filing deadline for 2018 races being February 7, you can pull petitions without having your name appear on that candidate list. It has happened before and it will happen again that names show up in the week before or of the filing deadline. Running for office is not for sissies.

You absolutely can eschew party politics if you want and I promise you, I know exactly how you feel if that describes you. When I ran for city council nine years ago and Jimmy Dimora was the head of the county Democratic party, I specifically stayed away. And of course there are people who have run and won for the Ohio legislature who chose not to seek the state party’s endorsement. However, know before you go because this is not an issue that will go away at the local level, with few exceptions (not even judicial candidates really get past this, for a variety of reasons having to do with how the parties can help those it endorses).

Countless articles have detailed the Trump bump in women candidates. EMILY’s List says the number of inquiries they’ve received has gone from 900 to 25,000. Not all those 25,000 are going to run but the ones that do, their chances of winning in 2018 are looking pretty good.

See any mistakes? Let me know in the comments or via email.


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