John Tsarpalas: I often speak to different groups (Tea Party groups, GOP groups, or any group that would like to learn about how to run for local political office). I give some of the beginning steps and thoughts about how to be a good candidate. So if you have a group and you’d like me to come talk to you, I am happy to do it. Just reach out to me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
I was recently at a group. A very sharp fellow stepped up during the Questions and Answers and gave me his six reasons not to run. I sat down and started recording this podcast with the reasons not to run. It was all negative. I got done and I thought, “Who wants to hear all of these negative reasons?”
There are so many reasons on why you should run. So let’s run through those six reasons why you should run for political office. This is Commonwealthy #66, Six Reasons to Run for Local Political Office.
Well, first of all, you are listening to Commonwealthy because you must have an interest in running for local office. It is what attracts you to this broadcast. It is what it is about. So there is something already there. So perhaps some of this you already know, but it can’t hurt to talk about it. You need to really understand your personal motivations if you are thinking about running.
Let’s start off with the first good reason I think you should run for political office.
Reason #1- Do Something Important with Your Spare Time
What are you doing right now with all of your time? Family things? Great. Working? Earning a living? Got to do it. Exercise? Healthy activities? Fantastic. How much time are you wasting watching television, listening to sports, or watching sports? How much TV are you wasting time on? Can you cut it down to one or two shows that are important to you and the rest is a waste of time? Can you just do it to relax once in a while?
Are you really using your time efficiently? Wouldn’t it be better if this time was put towards something to help your community? So let’s get to number two
Reason #2- Giving Back
Do you feel like you would like to do something to give back to the world? You don’t have to cure cancer. You don’t have to do something big. It is giving back if you get on your local park district and you make the parks a little better and run more efficiently. And it is done with the same budget money instead of increasing, but the parks look better. That’s giving back. You are making it better for the people in the community lives to go to a nice park.
And there are employees at the park district. Perhaps you are helping them by improving their work situation. What is it that you do in your regular life that carries over? What if you are an HR person? What if you are a person that is in the landscaping business, the nursery business? You understand green spaces and flowers. What if you are a home gardener and being involved in a park is sort of a way to leverage that thought into a bigger area that will give to more people?
What if you are just worried about kids in the future and you understand economics? You understand civics, because most of us who listen to this podcast do. And you realize the school district isn’t teaching those things anymore or they are teaching them with a certain slant that is biased. How do we get back to unbiased history classes? How do we get rid of some of the federal medalling in our schools? Can what is being taught in the schools be improved? That is giving back.
What do you have a little passion for? So part of that giving back is your getting involved. This concept of giving back brings me to number three on our list.
Reason #3- Public Service
That might be similar to giving back. There used to be a concept in America that someone would go be of public service. They would get elected to office, serve for a while, and then go back to being a private citizen. We have people out there that work for government (bureaucrats, regulators, teachers, police officers), but I think this is lost, the concept of public service.
Is Hillary Clinton a public servant or a self-serving egomaniac who is out to take as much from the system as possible? Most of the politicians I see here in Illinois are in it to make money. This is not only their job, it is a way to cash in on other areas.
The people who work for government used to make a little less, but would get steady work and better pensions in the end. Here in Illinois, that’s not true. They make more than the average citizen. They have much better pension plans. And, yeah, the work is steady. They don’t get laid off. They don’t have to change jobs. They don’t have any of those worries.
So I really feel that government has turned into something that we the taxpayers serve them. There is also something that is lost around here in Illinois. Maybe it hasn’t happened in your state and I hope it hasn’t. I hope you can keep it out. But they are all about revenue for everything. It is about giving you a ticket so they can make money. It is about more permits so they can charge permit fees. It is about more revenue, more government, not helping the people.
That’s why I took this out as a separate item. Public service, how do we bring that back into our local government? Let’s start there. You run for a local village board. How does that village have less rules, less regulations, less permit fees? Maybe they don’t have stickers they sell for the car every year and quit jacking the price up on that every year.
How can things be run more efficiently and it can be of service to the people in that community, not how do we take them for more? That’s what it feels like around here. So I think that concept of public service is huge. We need people running for office who are going to bring back that concept to instill that concept in the people working there and in the community.
And make it a friendly community, so it feels like government is there to be your friend, not be there to “Aha! I got you!” because that is what it is here in Illinois and Chicago area. If it is not like that by you, you don’t want it to happen. If it is like that, we need to turn it around.
So that was #3, public service. What is it you want to get involved in? I think it is also a wise thing to know what is going on in your community. That’s number four on the list.
#4- Learn about Your Community
You want to learn about your community. You want to learn about the different government organizations and branches that are out there and what they are doing. So that takes a little time. That takes some research. It takes Googling and it takes showing up to some of the meetings.
Sometimes some of this stuff is shown on your local cable TV station. You can do some of that. If it is wintertime and you don’t want to get out, turn some of that stuff on. Make that your TV watching. And find out what is going on in your community.
There are different levels of involvement in your community. If you get on a little board that is parks or the library, I don’t think they met that often. I don’t think their issues are that big. And it is a good way to get involved and give back.
And if you have more time or you have more interest in helping the schools – and that is really important I think. I think the number one thing to run for is school board because our schools are our future. Our kids are not getting good educations. This is really important. So you need to think about that. How do we get in there and learn about this? And how can we contribute? How can we make a difference?
Sometimes it is just jumping in. You are only going to learn so much from the outside. Once you are in, you are going to get all of the information from the staff and you are asking for some stuff that you might not be getting. You might want a little more. You might want to dig around a little bit. It might not make you popular with the staff, but so what?
We need to talk about that, being popular, being liked. There always will be people that do not like you. The problem is you don’t know that in the real world most of the time. And you aren’t rubbing up against people as much. This brings me to number five.
Reason #5- We the Good People
One of the problems we as conservatives, people that believe in America, the American Dream, American ideas and ideals have, is we are very busy. We work hard. We have small businesses. We believe that we want to earn our own way. We are active in our churches. Many of us are homeschoolers because quite frankly we don’t trust the school system anymore.
We are active in many ways, but we are not running for local office. We the good people need to step up because there are a lot of people with bad ideas and ideas that are hurting our children and our schools and ideas which are bad for the United States of America, which are bad for its citizens, which are bad for our future.
We see what is happening at a federal level, but this happens at a local level, too. The eroding of our communities has happened under liberalism, under progressivism. So we who believe in limited government need to step up and get involved, we the good people.
But if you step up for these extra things in your community and you are running for local office, there will be people that push back on you, saying they don’t like this or saying they don’t like you. There are people that unfortunately, just like on the internet, are trolls. They are haters. There are people that are just mean and bad people.
I’ve run into them in my personal life. I’ve run into them in my work life. There are a lot of them in the political world. I ran into a lot of them in the party world and in different groups that I have worked in. It is a shame that they exist because they ruin things for so many good people.
But we the good people cannot let that happen. We cannot be haters and we cannot be negative. We have to think of positive ways to get involved, say things in positive ways, and make sure that people understand what we are trying to do. If you explain it, I think people can understand it.
It is when you are trying to hide it and sneak around… You make it open. You make it out there. And you talk about it. And you have a right to your opinion. And often a minority opinion can be the right opinion. Just because it is popular doesn’t mean it is right. I live in a liberal neighborhood and they are so sure they are right at the same time that literally millions of kids are trapped in terrible school systems, usually controlled by Democrats, and they think they are right! There is something radically wrong there.
How do we say things in positive ways? I think the bottom line for saying something positive is how do you focus on the goal? In a school district, the goal is the best possible education with the resources you have so the students are better educated. So if you want to hold the line on a budget, you can say, “I want to get more resources to the students and I don’t think we need to have more spent on bureaucracy and on other levels of government that aren’t directly in the classroom.” Who can fault that?
Something else that is going on are the multiple, multiple levels of government out there. In Illinois, we have more government than any state in the Union. Sixty-eight hundred government organizations in the state of Illinois. And the federal government says we have eighty-two hundred. Government is so messed up they can’t figure out how many different government bodies there are in one state.
But there are multiple redundancies. There are things that can be eliminated. How about running on the concept that we need to eliminate this government body because that would then save taxpayers money and more resources could go right to the problem? Win-win for both sides.
Here in the Chicago area we have a lot of areas that have completely incorporated. In other words, there is a town or a village everywhere. And yet we have township governments running in the background, taking care of things that don’t need to be taken care of.
I lived for many years in a township that had no township roads; they were all either county, state, or within a town or a village. But the township was still there. It still collected taxes. It still had an office. It still had a staff of nine.
What did it do? It took taxpayers money and turned around and gave it to private charities. Why can’t those private charities take care of themselves number one? And/or why can’t those functions just be given to the towns? Why do we have to have this other whole group with staff and a building? It was worth almost three quarters of a million dollars. It was in a downtown area.
Things like that need to be looked at, talked about. People could have run for it on the grounds that they want to eliminate it and move those functions somewhere else that it is going to be positive. And it is all about how you approach it. And it is about your commitment to it.
So do you want to get outside of yourself? Do you want to do something more? They always say a good way to cure depression is to think about somebody else. How about thinking about your community? How about thinking about the kids in that town? How about thinking about your neighbors?
How about thinking about how the library is going to improve itself? Especially in this day of the Internet, what are our libraries doing? They often have speakers and movies and different functions. I go in there and there are a lot of old books that are kind of out of date. Everything else is sort of happening in the e-world. So I don’t quite know where libraries go.
Have you thought about that? Have your researched it? Have you gotten involved in your town library board? Take a look. Think about it.
One of the things that is a negative that people talk about is the perception of politicians. I think the problem is not enough of us, people that want to be local community activists but are citizen activists and citizen legislatures, aren’t running for office, which brings us to number six.
Reason #6- Citizen Legislatures
We’ve got full time professional politicians. I think that’s how people view politicians. But if more of us step up, try to set a good example- and if you are running for any local office, you are a role model. That’s really important to remember. You are a role model if you are running for local office. I don’t care how small the office is, you are a role model.
Act like it. Talk in positives. Be friendly. Have a smile. Don’t have anger fits in public. If you want to get angry, go home. Do it in a house privately. Get it out of your system. But don’t do it in public. You don’t need to start battles in public situations. And if it has got to get down to sort of a battle, okay, be a happy warrior.
If you can use humor, great! If you can debate, that’s great. Debate. But don’t do it with a lot of visible vehement anger. Just point out, “This is what I believe. I don’t agree with you.” That’s fine. And if you do it that way and enough of us do it that way, I think the view of politicians will change. That’s up to us to change that perception.
And of course there are always going to be dirty election campaigns. But that happens on a little higher level. I mean, it happening in state representative usually. It isn’t happening so much if you are running for this local township board or you are running for your local park district.
It does happen more in school board races, the negative. Part of that the liberals get dirty and the unions get dirty and they want to keep control. They will use whisper campaigns and use the parent association groups (PTA, PTO, and things like that) to do whisper campaigns.
It is going to happen. You need to try and stay positive. Try to stay out of the gossip and the mud. Talk about the issues, how it is going to help, and how you are going to make it better. Stay on track. Don’t get taken off into the garbage.
Now if false accusations are being made, you might want to respond. I get that. You need to address them. Address them straight on and positively. Talk about how you are being smeared or the other side is resorting to smear tactics and that’s a shame. Here’s the honest truth. Here’s what is going on. And go with it.
Again try to get it back out of the mud. Get it up into the light and move forward. Hold your head high and keep smiling.
As you were listening to this podcast, you might have been asking yourself, “Why is he talking about running for local office when we are a month or six weeks out from the general election in November 2016?” The reason is it is time to get ready right now if you are going to be running for local office in the spring of 2017. You need to be making up your mind, making that commitment right about now, but definitely before the holidays.
That’s one of the reasons I wanted to talk about these six reason to run. There is a whole lot of other reasons to run, a lot of good ones. A lot of positive ones. A lot about personal growth. A lot about helping your community and helping others, just making it a better world and a better America.
If you are thinking about running for local office and you haven’t made up your mind or you are not sure what you need to do, you can get a hold of me at email@example.com. I offer a free consultation for the first time. So usually for a half hour to an hour we talk and I can give you some thoughts, help you make up your mind, help you get on track and get some ideas together.
You can also go look at our free campaign planner, which you can find in the resource section of Commonwealthy.com. You can listen to the podcast about that campaign planner, Commonwealthy #64. That will give you some ideas on how to put together a campaign. Quite frankly, if you follow the planner, you can put together anywhere from a campaign for park district to a campaign for U.S. Senate. It is all there.
Feel free to check out some of the other podcasts there at Commonwealthy.com. We’ve got lots of them. It would help if you would go to iTunes or Stitcher or wherever you subscribe to podcasts and subscribe to this. Let your friends know about Commonwealthy. We’d love to reach out to more people. The best way to make that happen, if you wouldn’t mind, is word of mouth.
If you have some other activist friends, let them know about us. If I can be of assistance to your group, I am a great public speaker. I love to come out and talk to groups. And I also coach organizations in how to put together effective organizational plans.
You can make a real difference. You can change the world. You aren’t going to be able to do that by just talking about it. You have to get elected. We have to win some elections. Talk is cheap. Let’s win some elections.