The prospect of running for public office, especially a mayoral race, might seem a bit overwhelming. While many people in your community may express interest in running for public office, few act on it by declaring their candidacy. If you are considering running for mayor or have already decided to run, your chances of electoral victory greatly increase by following a few simple guidelines that will help you effectively understand and appeal to your voter base.
Understand Your Voter Base
The constituents of your locale matter more than anything. If you are in touch with these voters, you will have the information you need to craft a compelling and winning campaign. If you feel as though you don’t have your finger on the pulse of the community, it’s time to do some interviews, surveys and research. Ask questions of locals, identify their pain points and use data to develop your campaign’s overarching message and talking points. Understanding the connection between the political data and the issues related to your community specifically will be key in crafting a compelling platform.
Are You Eligible?
Though you are likely eligible to run for mayor, it is worth double-checking the eligibility requirements just to make sure. The eligibility criteria for your town or city can differ from the requirements of adjacent cities. Perform some research into the requirements pertaining to age, work experience, education, and the length of time you must have lived within the city limits. Typically, your county clerk or city elections board will provide this information on their website. It is never a bad idea to call their office as well.
Furthermore, it must be noted that cities with a population in excess of 200,000 individuals mandate mayoral candidates be registered as voters within the city in which they are running for mayor. Cities of this size also mandate that mayoral candidates be a minimum of 18-years-old.There are a few exceptions to this rule. Examples include Buffalo, NY; Baton Rouge, LA; Saint Paul, MN; and Jersey City, NJ.
Begin Your Petition for Candidacy
The vast majority of cities require that candidates for the office of mayor obtain a specific number of signatures on a petition in order to run. Begin collecting signatures so your name can be added to the ballot. The specific number of signatures necessary hinges on the size of the town or city, as well as its number of residents. You can obtain a petition to run for mayor through the City Clerk’s Office or pertinent election authority for your specific municipal race.
Be sure to double-check the signature requirement as well as the submission deadline to set an appropriate timetable. If necessary, assemble a squad of canvassers to collect signatures in support of your run for office. In some cases, potential opponents can challenge the validity of your signatures, it is always smart to collect verifying information such as address or contact information so that signees can verify if needed. It would also be wise to collect more than the required amount of signatures to ensure that if some are considered invalid, you still have enough to declare candidacy.
Appoint a Treasurer and Other Members
Your campaign will need a treasurer and committee members. If you don’t have an appointed treasurer, you will not be allowed to accept funds. Nor can any expenditures be made for the campaign unless there is a treasurer. The Election Packet will have all the details regarding the designation of the treasurer. While it is important to have a designated treasurer, consider appointing or hiring someone who has experience filing campaign finance reports or has a finance or accounting background. When it comes to campaign finance guidelines, the details matter.
Outside of formal positions, consider inviting volunteers as your campaign builds momentum. Volunteers are necessary to conduct campaign activities. These individuals make it that much easier to collect signatures, publicize your campaign, raise funds and add to your support. You can ramp up recruiter support with social media platforms, web forms, fundraisers, endorsements from local groups and in-person recruiting. It is crucial that you tap into your local network. Your volunteers play a vital role in being advocates for you throughout the community. Consider asking people whom you trust and interact with regularly to step up and play a role in the success of your campaign.
Exhaust all Avenues to Connect with Voters
You can connect with new voters through canvassing, advertising on TV/radio, newspaper ads, phone banking, social media and other digital avenues. Canvassing consists of recruiting volunteers to go from one door to the next to discuss issues with prospective voters, detail your plans for the city or town, and convince them you are worthy of their vote on election day. Though some homeowners may not be open to door-to-door canvassing, these one-on-one interactions play a vital role in establishing engagement within the community.
Attend Government Meetings and Events
Though attending government events and meetings will minimize the amount of time you can spend enhancing your campaign, doing so is essential to being elected to the office of mayor. Participating in these sessions will help you identify your city’s challenges and opportunities for growth. These sessions also provide an opportunity to verbalize your stances on local issues. Speak clearly and coherently when you have the chance to articulate your thoughts. Attending local events and conventions gives you a chance to speak to voters directly.
Recognize That Winning Mayor Requires Popularity
Running for political office is akin to a popularity contest. The challenge lies in determining how to become popular, especially if your local network is limited. Focus on the language of your message. Artfully compose a campaign slogan, feature it on your marketing material, and you’ll make meaningful inroads with voters. Ensure that your central message, graphics, and branding stays consistent throughout the duration of the campaign to minimize confusing voters.
Above all, follow local news every single day without exception. When possible, make an effort to engage with local media to ensure they understand your platform and why you are running. Developing your understanding of local challenges will help you articulate your position and proposed solutions much more effectively. Continue to expand your social network by meeting with community influencers, and it will not take long to develop the meaningful connections you need to heighten voter awareness.
Aristotle is Here to Help You Win Your Campaign
We are proud to provide the foundation necessary for your political campaign to reach its true potential and culminate in a victory. If you are considering running for mayor or any other position, you can benefit from our data services, consumer data, political data and other tools. Reach out to us today to find out more about Aristotle’s tools, services, databases and more.