Running for local office is a different beast. Maybe it’s in your blood, or maybe you don’t remember everyone’s name the first time you meet them.
Either way, some challenges are universal. Regardless of how much you try to prepare, you’ll be caught wading the water just like all those who came before. That being said, your journey could be made easier if you accept some things right out of the gate.
Not knowing is part of the job. Get used to it.
You’ll be asked to discuss issues you may not know much about, or at least not enough to voice an opinion on. If you’re lucky, you won’t have to face those moments on a stage or behind a microphone.
Regardless of how well you know your town, it’s issues, and it’s people, you’ll always get questions you can’t answer confidently–and that’s okay! Sometimes earning the respect (and the vote) of the people means being transparent.
The best thing you can do in those situations is listen, take notes, do your research, and voice your opinion once you have one.
People treat you differently. Don’t think it won’t happen to you.
Politics can be a dirty game, and more people play it than you think. You’ll no longer be just the friendly neighbor from down the street. To some you’ll be seen as a threat, an obstacle or an opponent. Some will come to you for favors or try to win you over.
Local politics affects people at home and issues become personal, so passions tend to run higher than you may have anticipated.
In frustrating situations, remember that you’re passionate about the issues too, and that’s why you’re running for office. A little virtue and deep breaths can go a long way.
Don’t underestimate your team. You definitely need them.
What’s a team anyway? Really it’s just the people working hard to support you throughout your race. Random tasks and odd jobs are as much a part of campaigning as social media strategy and organizing fundraisers. Admit when you need help and accept it when it’s offered. Say it with us. Humility.
Whether your campaign staff is dozens of seasoned experts or three friends from college and your mom, they’ll be the backbone of your whole operation.
And remember that sometimes people surprise you for the better. There are a variety of ways in which people will lend their support. Sometimes they come out of the woodwork from places you wouldn’t expect.
Oh and one last thing. Don’t let anyone fool you. Your mom will rally for you with so much energy it’s scary!