There are certain occupations that are a true calling. The most obvious are our religious leaders but others that are no less valuable include teachers, police officers, social workers — and politicians. Yes, I said it. Although our current federal and state legislatures low approval ratings have painted politicians with a broad brush, running for office to serve your community is a commendable goal. Have you ever sat through an entire city council meeting? How about a school board meeting? I encourage everyone to sit through at least one. You will quickly appreciate the duties and responsibilities of all of our government officials who serve their community.
Candidate filing closed on December 11th for the 2018 mid-term elections. You may have a friend or family member running for State Representative, U.S. Congress, or some other office. They need more than just your vote and there are many ways to help. Of course you’re going to vote for them and you will even tell another friend to vote for them also. That is the bare minimum. If you really want to help, consider the following ideas:
▪ Contribute to their campaign with a hefty check. No candidate likes to ask for money and first time candidates commonly fund their own campaigns — unnecessarily. A competitive city council race often cost up to $5,000 and other races grow exponentially from there with a U.S. Congressional campaign easily in the millions of dollars. When you contribute to a campaign you are sending a message that you support this candidate’s run for office and it lets them know they have support if they consider running again if they lose.
▪ Help the candidate raise money. Be part of your candidates fund raising committee and get your friends and family members to consider a donation also.
▪ Put your candidate’s campaign sign in your yard but please pick up the sign yourself — it will save the candidate or one of their volunteers from taking the time to deliver the sign to you.
▪ Help put up campaign signs. The big signs require a steel post to be hammered into the ground that turns into a great workout. Campaigns also need help delivering signs to those people who did not read the point above about picking up their own signs.
▪ Can you create a website? If so, help the candidate with a web page with their platform positions and issues that they need publicize. Be sure it has a donate button to a site that can take credit cards.
▪ Are you skilled with data? People who work with spreadsheets and databases are always needed for campaigns. Thousands of names and addresses need to be sorted into reports for the block walks and phone banks.
▪ Do you use Facebook? Help the campaign by maintaining their official campaign Facebook page. Keep your supporters in line: discourage crude language and insults and remove fake news and unsubstantiated rumors.
▪ Block Walk. Walking door to door to support a candidate sounds intimidating but it is actually a lot of fun (and great exercise). Chatting with potential voters is almost always a positive experience with only rare cases where the home owner is unwelcoming.
▪ Phone Bank. Calling potential voters to introduce them to your candidate and asking for their vote is required for almost every campaign; however, it is actually easier today than in years past. People rarely answer their phone now. You usually just leave the campaign message on an answering machine.
A special message to young people looking for a job: a candidate will not turn down an eager volunteer who wants to help a campaign. You won’t get rich (in most cases you’ll be asked to work for free) but you will make friendships and connections with potentially important people and you’ll have work experience and references to put on a resume.
Whether it is a non-partisan local seat or a fiercely competitive political race, campaigns are better and less divisive if more “non-political” people get involved. When you meet a candidate that inspires you, consider supporting democracy and your community by joining a campaign.
Mark Bauer is President of the Northeast Tarrant Democrats and lives in Colleyville, TX. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org