If you’re running for office, you’re likely already poised to create significant change within your community. But, the desire to make the world a better place isn’t the only thing you need. Keep reading for tips that can help you make your campaign a success as a new politician and a person with a disability.
Today on The Two Verbs Project, we break down a few simple steps you can take as you enter the world of politics.
Define your platform.
First things first, you need to establish your platform. This is just a political term that describes your goals, aspirations, and position on matters pertinent to the role that you want to play in your local government. For example, you might run as a local community leader to help bring equality on the playground to children with disabilities.
Make sure you’re qualified.
Next, ensure that you are legally and pragmatically qualified for the position you’re running for. This might include knowing that you live in the proper zone or having the right education to tackle the issues upon which you built your platform. If you think you need a stronger set of credentials, plan to go back to school to earn your doctorate or other higher degree. This can set you apart from others while giving you the knowledge you need to fulfill your future duties. Tip: Take classes online so that you don’t have to step away from your life and the community to learn what you need to know.
Choose your “hot” topics.
Your primary platform isn’t the only thing that you’ll likely be asked to speak on as you take on a role in public office. Make a point to get to know the hot topics in your area, which could be anything from the legalization of marijuana to the public opinion of the LBGTQ community.
Gather the troops.
You need volunteers and supporters even if you’re just running for a local alderman seat. Start with your family and friends, but don’t be afraid to reach out via social media or to other political groups in your area that align with your platform.
Prepare yourself emotionally.
Being thrust into the public eye after leading a private life is complex and can cause significant stress. The pressures are great, and even some of the most famous celebrities have succumbed to the pressure and stepped away from the limelight. Remember, everything you do from the day you start your campaign becomes the public’s business.
Practice public speaking.
Speaking of the public, you also have to get really comfortable talking in front of a crowd. No matter how self-confident you are, it’s not uncommon to freeze up once you get the mic in your hand. CNBC offers a few suggestions on how to refine your public speaking ability, including greeting your listeners and simply sharing how you feel.
Keep extensive records.
No matter where you live if you’re running for office, you must maintain extensive records and file reports. In Florida, for example, you are legally obligated to report all expenditures, contributions, and loans taken out in the name of your office. Depending on where you live and what office you’re running for, you may have to keep more extensive records, and it might be in your best interest to hire a campaign manager or an accountant from the very beginning.
Final Thoughts On Running For Office
Running for office, even for a tiny community seat, is challenging and rewarding all the same time. As a person with a disability, you can put yourself in the unique position to advocate for change for people of all abilities. While this is not a comprehensive checklist of things you can do for success, each tip above can help you get started on the right foot.