Youre a natural born leader. You are passionate about your beliefs, and in the sage words of Kenny Rogers, you know when to hold em and know when to fold em. You have great communication skills, and you can maintain grace under pressure. So, is running for office for you?
Political opportunities abound at many levels for both volunteer and paid positions. Whether you aspire to a place on the board of your Home Owners Association or you have ambitions for local government, there are many pros and cons to running for office. The following are a few items to start out your list.
- Running for office gives you the opportunity to stand up for your beliefs. By giving voice to meaningful causes, you can create awareness and help others.
- As an office holder, you can create change. Beyond passing budgets and the regular business of governing a city or institution, you can craft policy that shapes the future in a positive way.
- Candidates are guaranteed to meet interesting people. While this reason sounds like a trite answer from the Miss America pageant, the education that results from interacting with a diverse populace cant be learned from books. Such expansion of your viewpoint is often a catalyst for personal growth.
- According to Janice Shaw Crouse on TownHall.com, The female share of Congressional seats seems to have reached a plateau at about one in six at the federal level and about one in four at state capitals. By serving in any office, you can be a role model for other females. Todays young women may be influenced by your leadership and could someday increase the proportion of women in national and state government.
- Politics…the word itself is synonymous with back-stabbing, mudslinging and all-around unpleasantness. It can be especially difficult for women to maintain composure when we feel personally attacked. Those running for office must be prepared for unfair assaults.
- Many people expect elected officials to act with high morals, so those running for and holding office face public scrutiny. If you serve on the school board, you best not lose your temper with your children in the grocery store. As a member of city council, parking tickets can cause immeasurable scandal.
- The election process can be exhausting, and the time commitment involved with holding an office is similarly demanding especially if the position is pro bono. Be confident you can, and want to, fulfill the requirements of the position before running.
- Most elections result in only one winner in a very public race. You must be comfortable with the possibility of defeat and capable of keeping your dignity whether you win or lose.
If You Decide to Run for Office
- Choose an agenda and stick to it, because people tend lose confidence in a female candidate who appears to change her mind. Pick a few major issues and personal strengths, and then emphasize them repeatedly.
- Court an audience most likely to vote for a woman. This includes young adults, women and more educated voters.
- Be willing to take credit for your achievements that demonstrate your experience. Dont hesitate to share relevant accolades and honors as proof that you can do the job at hand.
- Make sure your presence is professional and polished. People especially judge women by their appearance, and first impressions will influence voters to embrace (or ignore) your platform.
- Know the issues and be prepared to discuss all angles. You will shine in debates if you show your intelligence and demonstrate excellent communication skills.
- Educate yourself about the political process and find support. These sites are geared toward women running at the state and federal level, but many tips can be adapted for other types of elections.
The personal rewards from holding public office are tremendous, and the opportunities to affect positive change while in office are unmatched. Good luck to all of you who decide to strap on your Asics and run the race!