Community needs candidates. Could it be you?
Last updated 12/16/2020 at 5:46pm | View PDF
Experience any hotly contested elections lately?
Granted, the presidential race was certainly a spectacle not seen before (which goes for most of 2020!).
But it also got two-thirds of the electorate to the polls, the highest turnout since 1900 when Republican incumbent William McKinley defeated Democrat William Jennings Bryan.
Healthy turnout is healthy for a democracy, And so is a robust roster of citizens willing to throw their hats into the candidates’ ring. The window to file for candidacy in the April 6 Consolidated Election opened Monday and closes this Monday, Dec. 21. Locally there are open seats on the Hinsdale Village Board and Hinsdale Public Library Board, Community Consolidated District 181 Board and the Hinsdale High School District 86 Board.
If you feel called to this civic duty, here are some things to keep in mind courtesy of NPR’s LifeKit podcast:
• You don’t have to know everything before you run. What matters is that you care enough to run.
“There will always be people in any arena who will know less and know more than you,” advises former Massachusetts state Sen. Marian Walsh. “The question is, do I care enough? And am I willing to do more of both?”
• Ask a lot of questions — to people who have run before, those who have held the sought-after office and even the person who currently holds it. What did they do to campaign? How big was their team? What do they wish they’d known beforehand?
• Figure out your win number and your vote goal.
You just need more votes than your competitor. Find the turnout numbers from the last few similar elections and average them. Then multiply that number by the number of registered voters in your jurisdiction. You’ll want to aim for more than 50 percent of whatever that number is.
• Build your own campaign staff and don’t ever turn down help.
Assemble a mix of people who know you well. You’ll probably want to find someone to manage money, a communications director and a volunteer coordinator — and a campaign manager. When people offer to help, give them a job.
• Campaigns, even in this modern era, are won in person.
From door-knocking to big gatherings, a five-minute conversation goes a long way. Obviously the coronavirus has altered normal patterns but you still want people to know who you are and what you stand for when they see your name on the ballot. Your campaign should keep track of every interaction with someone who might be interested in helping you or voting for you.
• Fundraising isn’t scary!
In a lot of cases, fundraising is the difference between a winning and a losing campaign. Think through your expenses — from advertising to a website domain to a campaign office to stamps — and set a goal for how much you need to raise.
Before all that, of course, you need to collect signatures on nominating petitions and file them by Monday. Time is running short so, if so inspired, contact the institution you aspire to serve to get the materials. Also visit the Illinois State Board of Elections website at https://www.elections.il.gov/Default.aspx for answers to all your questions.
Good luck, and thank you for your willingness to serve!