John Tsarpalas: Do yourself a favor. Start setting yourself up if you have any hopes of being a winning candidate for local office. Today I’m going to give you seven thoughts and seven things you could be doing that will not only help your career and help you grow as a person, but also will help you be a winning candidate when you do decide to finally run. It’s Commonwealthy #38, setting yourself up to be a candidate.
Well I am recording this as the year 2015 is coming to a close. I want to look forward and I want you to think about the future if you are at all considering running for local office. And maybe you are not ready to pull that trigger yet. Maybe it is 2017, 2020, somewhere you are thinking about it and that’s why you are listening to this podcast.
There’s some things you can be doing in this next year to get ready for that run without coming anywhere near declaring or really getting involved. There’s basically seven things that I have jotted down that I think would be important for you to think about and to do.
The first one is you need to get involved in your community. You need to get known. Join the Rotary. Join the Lion’s Club. Join the Chamber of Commerce if you are a small businessperson. If you are in a rural area, perhaps it is a Farm Bureau, a Moose, an Elk, or any of those kind of social clubs.
Are you involved in a church or a synagogue or some type of religious organizations? Become a little more high visibility. You don’t have to have to take on all the chores of the church, but raise your profile there. Let people know that you are there.
Show up to events. Get yourself known in the community. Because as you make those contacts and as you have visibility, this is going to add to your ability to get elected for whatever office you are interested in.
And don’t forget this all has benefits for life. I mean, it’s fun to go to events. It’s good to be involved in a service organization. It makes your heart feel good to be of service to people. You are going to make friends. You are going to make contacts. You are going to build networks. Who knows what this could do for your career, other than politics?
The next thing I have on the list is to join your local tea party group and/or GOP group. If you are a Libertarian, perhaps it is getting involved in a Libertarian organization or Libertarian party. If you are a Constitutionalist, find some groups out there that fit your issues and your style of politics.
But bear in mind that if you are going to be running for a partisan office, your best chance of winning is going to be with one of the major parties, the Republicans or the Democrats. I assume if you are listening to this podcast, you are leaning more Republican.
I know the Republicans have a long way to go in terms of standing up for the Constitution and true fiscal conservatism. However, they are the party that is supposed to do that. My hope is as we get more and more people involved, they will get better at it. And you can be a leader within the party.
How do you find them? You google them. And you go to a local county GOP meeting or if you are in an urban area, it might be a township or if you are in a city, it might be a ward. In some areas there is no GOP. I know in a lot of the bluer areas, it just is lacking. But if you google around, you will find something. Start showing up.
There are also Republican groups you can join. For instance, if you are a college student, you can join the College Republicans. If you are a sort of millennial, generation X-er, out of college but in your twenties to young thirties, there is the Young Republicans. They have organizations all over.
There are groups for different ethnicities, Hispanic groups, etc. Get involved in some of these groups. Get a little higher profile there. See what is going on. But your local GOP group, your county or township organization, the precinct committeemen, precinct captains, is a good place to get involved in politics. See what is going on.
Here’s the big advantage for you: you are going to meet other people there that are interested in politics. For me, it was a great source of finding volunteers. My fellow precinct captains, those activists and people that are involved in my local GOP township organization all help me with campaigns that I was running.
They were all looking for a fight. They were all looking to make a difference. It was easy to recruit from that pool. If you are going to run for some local office, partisan or nonpartisan, you can recruit from that GOP pool. So that’s your number one reason for getting involved there.
It is the same thing in the Tea Party. They might not be running under that banner, but it is a great place to find activists. The Constitutionalist Party, too.
Libertarians? Well, I was in the Libertarian Party in the 1980’s. Quite frankly, there was such an attitude of “It doesn’t matter. It is only a form of sanction of the victim if we actually run candidates to win.” Libertarians ran candidates. They didn’t have a chance. I know people are going to be mad at me for that statement.
I am pragmatic. I am a Libertarian who joined the Republican Party in hopes of winning elections. I have elected a few good candidates. I have elected a few who I am afraid are very disappointing. But such is life. And you go on and you keep trying.
So think about a party that might be of use to you and you could be of help to them. Together you are going to move the ball forward for your ideas and your issues. You are not going to get a hundred percent buy in. You are not going to get a hundred percent match on what you believe. But 80-20 is pretty darn good. So go for it.
Alright, number three on my list is go out and buy your URL. Buy your name. I own JohnTsarpalas.com, .net, .org. Do you own JohnDoe.com? JaneSmith? And perhaps you want to get something that is a little more political and candidate sounding? So Citizens for John Doe, the People for John Smith, or something like that. Go out and get those URLs because they are getting harder and harder to find ones, especially if you have a common name.
Number four on my list is social media. Are you on Facebook? Are you building friends? Are you building a community around you on Facebook? Do you tweet? If you haven’t started, you need to.
Find something in the social media world you like to do and works for you and build it. Build a following and build a community. Build on people that you can draw on who can help you when it comes time for your campaign. Now, if you are going to be running locally, you are going to want to try to keep your social media a little more local focused.
The next thing I think you should do is start following the issues and the level of government you are interested in. If you are interested in school boards, start following your local school board. Attend meetings. Watch it on cable access if you have that local cable TV station that records the meetings.
Start talking to people about the issues in your community. Set up an alert. There used to be Google Alerts. They don’t seem to work anymore. I don’t know if they even exist. I use a service called TalkWalker.com. You can set up alerts for different issues, names, and keywords. Put those in so you can an email about articles or anything that is posted on the web about that group.
Start following. Find out if there are any blogs about what is going on in your community. But it is a good time to be doing these things and start thinking about what is happening. Perhaps you might want to do a FOIA request or two. At least get a hold of the budget. Most of this is open information, so you should be able to get a hold of it and start thinking about it.
Number six I think is important. It will take a little time. I am suggesting that you go find a chapter of Toastmasters International. Find a local club and start practicing your public speaking. If you’ve had a lot of public speaking experience, you can skip this.
But if you haven’t or if you are nervous about public speaking, if you are think you are okay at public speaking, there is always room for improvement in public speaking. Toastmasters is a great place to be a beginner or be somewhere in the middle. At any level, it’s a great place to improve your public speaking.
There basic manual is the best for giving you all the basics. There is ten different areas that it focuses on. Once you start to master those ten and keep working on them, you can become an incredible public speaker.
So check out Toastmasters. The URL is toastmasters.org. Across the top it says Find A Club. Click on that. You will put in a zip code and it will get you a club close to you.
The final thought for today is read about issues. Have you reached out to your local think tank? Every state in America has a think tank. If you go to spn.org, the State Policy Network, you can find your think tank there. If you just google conservative or free market think tank and your state name, it will come up.
Get on their email list. Start reading their stuff. Find out what the issues are and how they are phrasing them and wording them. Start thinking about this stuff. So I think that’s number seven. You are researching your topics.
And then you are going to sit down and you are either going to write down what you are thinking or perhaps record what you are thinking. But you need to start thinking it through and talking it through. Start talking to other people about those issues- friends and likeminded people. Get their opinion on the issues. Bounce your opinion off them and start working on it.
Once you have an idea of where you are going with an issue, see it through it through until you’ve got it solidified and you can put it down and write it down. You’ll have it for the future when you need to draw on it and you need a position paper for your website.
So there are things you can be doing long before you run that will help you get elected and help you to just be more conversant in the issues and to be a better citizen. What better way to become a good, qualified candidate than to start to be active in your community now?
So I hope you will make a New Year’s resolution to get active in your community. Perhaps you will make that big decision on whether you are going to run. It’s not too far off to be thinking about the local and municipal races that will be happening in 2017 in the spring. People start thinking about and laying the groundwork for that and gearing up.
The problem is everyone is going to be busy in September and October and November in next year (2016). Those people who are gearing up for 2017 are going to be kind of on the sidelines. But you should start now and start lining up people now for 2017.
We’ll be here to help you and answer your questions as always. I am John@commonwealthy.comif you need any questions answered or have thoughts. I am always looking for your feedback. Please, if you haven’t subscribed, please go to iTunes or Stitcher and subscribe to this podcast.
Thanks for listening this year. It’s been fun. I hope you’ve enjoyed it. I hope we’ve taught you a few things. Have a happy new year!