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Running For Local Office For Dummies (1119588170) cover image

Running For Local Office For Dummies

ISBN: 978-1-119-58817-7
Paperback
272 pages
August 2019
US $22.99 Add to Cart

Introduction 1

About This Book 1

Foolish Assumptions 2

Icons Used in This Book 3

Beyond the Book 3

Where to Go from Here 3

Part 1: Hail, Future Caesar 5

Chapter 1: Who Runs for Public Office 7

To Be a Politician 7

Avoiding public office altogether 8

Understanding who wins elections 9

Having thick skin 9

Resisting conformity 10

The Ideal Candidate 11

The Political Type 13

Understanding why people run for office 13

Becoming one of them 14

Accept the Results 15

Chapter 2: Local Office Choices 17

Political Hierarchy 17

Local Office Options 19

Exploring political divisions 19

Selecting a seat 20

Knowing your taxing districts 21

Choose an Office 22

Letting the office find you 22

Making a good fit 22

Partisan Effects 23

Running along party lines 23

Avoiding partisan politics 24

Chapter 3: Other Ways to Get Involved 25

Boost Your Public Résumé 25

Building your reputation 26

Becoming a community leader 26

The Activist and the Gadfly 27

Underestimating the gadfly 27

Becoming an activist 28

Joining a party 29

Stay Behind the Curtain 30

Knowing the power players 30

Becoming an influential person 30

Part 2: Before You Run 33

Chapter 4: Know Yourself 35

Some Vital Questions 35

Asking family and friends 36

Knowing your public exposure 36

Discovering your abilities 37

Reaching your goal 38

Explore Your Past 39

Remembering what you’ve done 39

Dealing with potential issues 41

Sell Yourself 42

Believing you can do it 42

Acting the part 43

Dressing the part 44

To Become a Public Person 45

Being available 45

Making new friends and contacts 46

Cutting short a boring conversation 47

Chapter 5: Research the Position 49

The Obligations of Holding Office 49

Knowing the basic requirements 50

Exploring other responsibilities 51

Fit the Job into Your Schedule 52

Study the Issues 52

The Players 53

Recognizing the cast and crew 54

Making the rounds 55

Identifying other people to know 55

Chapter 6: Consider Your Competition 57

Meet Your Opposition 57

Finding possible opponents 58

Building a list of potential candidates 58

Doing a SWOT analysis 59

The Street Fight 60

Having too many opponents 60

Categorizing your opposition 61

Dropping out 62

The Formidable Foe (an Incumbent) 62

Studying the incumbent’s record 63

Reviewing the organization’s unpopular decisions 63

Experiencing the perfect political storm 63

The Agony of Running Unopposed 64

Slates 64

Understanding a slate 65

Being slated against your will 65

Chapter 7: Know the Voters 67

Behold: Voter Data! 67

Running the local election 68

Gathering election data 68

Preparing your lists 70

Purging the lists 72

Obtaining ongoing voter data 73

The Fickle Electorate 73

Accepting the truth about voters 74

Dealing with unholy partisanship 75

Becoming the preferred type of elected official 75

Chapter 8: Ready to Run 77

When to Start? 77

Knowing the election type and style 78

Creating a campaign calendar 79

Starting early 80

The Announcement 81

Creating a press release 82

Staging an announcement event 83

Get Your Answers Ready 84

Memorizing important answers 84

Avoiding awkward answers 85

Election Registration 86

Understanding the qualifications for office 86

Filing the forms 87

Commit Your Time 88

Part 3: The Campaign 89

Chapter 9: Gather Your Assets 91

People to Help You 91

Finding required people 92

Using a campaign manager 93

Obtaining other important people 93

Recruiting volunteers 94

Your Message 95

Honing a message 95

Updating your bio 96

Avoiding meaningless mush 96

Making promises 97

Endorsements 97

Contact Lists 98

Chapter 10: Your Campaign Brand 101

Marvelous Marketing Mavens 102

You are the Product 102

Generating name recognition 102

Creating written material 103

Taking campaign photos 104

Magic Marketing Material 105

Building a brand 105

Creating the traditional handouts 106

Considering other printed material 108

Chapter 11: Money Stuff 111

Campaign Finances 112

Creating a spreadsheet 112

Receiving cash and checks 113

Taking in-kind donations 114

Getting online payments 114

Setting your funding goal 115

Money to Spend 116

Discovering how much things cost 116

Wasting money 118

The Secret to Raising Money 119

Doing background work 119

Asking for money 120

Working through a rejection 121

Strategies for Fundraising 122

Putting on a meet-and-greet 122

Visiting organizations 123

Funding yourself 124

Finance Reports 124

Knowing the law 125

Dealing with campaign finance problems 126

Chapter 12: Communications 127

Connect with Your Audience 127

Using social media 128

Sending direct mail 129

Making some yard signs 133

Writing letters to the editor 136

Going door-to-door 137

Attending forums and debates 138

Writing press releases 140

To Go Negative 142

Understanding “going negative?” 142

Accepting that some people don’t like you 143

Unleashing your wrath 144

Preparing your defense 145

Chapter 13: The Campaign 147

Your Campaign’s Number-One Employee 148

Taking on a full-time job 148

Clearing your calendar 148

Making those calls 149

Putting your volunteers to work 149

Not One, but Two Elections 150

Running in the primary and general elections 151

Addressing the absentees 151

Working the general election 152

Stuff Happens 154

Enduring a major screw-up 154

Dealing with a family emergency 155

Down to the Wire 155

Chapter 14: Election Day 157

Get Out the Vote 158

Rules About Election Day 158

Plan Your Victory Party 160

The Aftermath 161

Accepting a loss 161

Dealing with a win 162

Agonizing over close elections 162

Why Not Try Again? 163

Part 4: In Office 165

Chapter 15: Know the Law 167

Orientation 167

Rules 168

Knowing the code 169

Visiting your paid expert 170

Conflicts of Interest 171

Determining a conflict of interest 172

Dealing with a conflict 172

The Quasi-Judicial Role 174

Becoming judge and jury 174

Avoiding ex parte communications 175

Your Role 176

Serving the public 176

Accepting limitations on your infinite power 177

Making policy versus administrative roles 178

Cooperation 179

Chapter 16: Public Service 181

The Staff 181

Knowing who’s who 182

Assigning department liaisons 183

Interacting with staff 183

Avoiding surprises 184

Members of the Public 185

Serving your constituents 185

Following through 186

Public Communications 187

The Press 187

Developing a positive relationship with the media 188

Tossing a reporter a bone 188

Being caught off guard 189

Your Behavior in Public 190

Chapter 17: At a Public Meeting 191

Transparency 191

Keeping the public’s business public 192

Creating a paper trail 193

Excluding items from the public 194

Disclosing conflicts and recusing yourself 195

The Public Meeting 195

Setting the agenda 196

Conducting yourself during a meeting 198

Attending workshops 199

Concerned Citizens Want to Be Heard 200

Holding public comment 201

Dealing with upset people 201

Your Public Record 203

Chapter 18: Decisions: Who to Tick Off? 205

The Same Ol’ Same Ol’ 205

Homework for Every Decision 206

That “Difficult Decision” 207

The Vote 208

Chapter 19: Your Reelection 211

The Glory of Incumbency 211

Taking advantage of your advantage 212

Understanding why voters keep incumbents 212

Reapplying for the same job 213

Your Reelection Strategy 213

Touting your public record 214

Being an active candidate 214

Term Limits 215

Groom a Replacement 216

Part 5: The Part of Tens 219

Chapter 20: Ten Common Campaign Mistakes 221

Not Raising Money 222

Spending Money Early 222

Misspending Money 223

Not Showing Up 223

Not Tracking Finances 223

Mistreating Staff and Supporters 224

Arguing with Idiots Online 224

Not Using Volunteers 225

Getting Facts Wrong 226

Going Negative 226

Chapter 21: Ten Ups and Downs 229

Up and Down: Polls 229

Up: Money Comes In 230

Down: Press Coverage 230

Up: Unexpected Support 231

Down: Your Opponent is Doing Well 232

Up: You See an Effect 232

Down: Stress 233

Up: Positive Feedback 233

Down: No-Shows 234

Up: You Did It 234

Chapter 22: Ten Frustrations of an Elected Official 235

Staff Offers Yes–No “Decisions” 236

Electeds Kowtow to Staff 236

Electeds Keep Congratulating Staff 237

The Whole “Sir” Thing 238

Out of the Loop 238

Someone Punts 239

When Peers are Obviously Unprepared 240

People Who Suck the Air Out of the Room 240

Subcommittee Overload 241

Experts to Ignore 243

Index 245

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