How to Become a Candidate for Local Office - National Democratic Training Committee

Deciding to run for office is an emotional rollercoaster. This article is designed to help you become a candidate by finding the right office and setting you on the path for success.

One of the most frequently asked questions when choosing to enter politics is, “What office should I run for?” Good news! There are many elected offices in your community that could be a great fit.

Find Your Why

Before deciding what office to run for, take a step back, and think about what made you want to run. You could have been inspired by any number of reasons: city infrastructure, public education, or an uncontested seat. You’ll be asked over and over again why you are running for office, so it needs to be a good answer.

Why you are running influences your core message as you start a campaign. Our How to Craft Your Core Message Mini Lesson helps connect your “Why” to your core message.

In addition, your “Why” is motivation when times get tough. It centers you despite overwhelming moments during the campaign and connects you with your community.

Finally, what drove you to become a candidate can indicate what office you should run for.

Do the Research

There is an office out there that will benefit from your voice and passion. It just might take a bit of digging to find. A good place to start researching is our Understanding the Democratic Party course. It quickly acquaints or reacquaints you with Democratic Politics.

Research what offices can change the issues you are passionate about. Remember your “Why.

Don’t restrict research to internet searches! For example, ask questions of the person currently or previously elected to the position. Or, talk to your community about the office. An added perk here is this will connect you with voters.

Questions this research should answer include:

  • When is this seat up for election again?
  • Are you eligible to run?
  • Is there an incumbent or will it be open?
  • Would you be running against another Democratic candidate?

Run for Office has a handy tool to determine what offices are up for election and when. Run for Office allows you to search offices at local, county, state, and federal levels.

Researching Local Offices

Being an elected leader allows you to enact change in your backyard. With nearly half a million elected offices throughout the country, most are in local government. It is locally where you might find an office that meets your passion. 

Focusing on local elections can result in rapid, cohesive solutions for major issues that affect relatively large populations.


Here’s a brief list of elected offices in local government. Remember, there are nearly 500,000 offices in local government. This is not everything. But, this should give you an idea of what seats may be available in the next election. 

State Government

Senate and House/Assembly
Central Committee
Court Clerk

County Government

Prosecuting Attorney

City Government

City Council President
Councilman/Councilwoman or Alderman/Alderwoman 
School Board President or Board Member
Precinct Committeeman/Committeewoman 

Where Change Happens

Change in local politics influences what happens at a State and Federal level. Federal officials start to notice if enough noise is made on the local government level.

By electing local officials who support the causes you believe in, you can be part of making a change at a local level that could eventually catch on as federal law. And in the meantime, you’ll be happy with the laws your state has incorporated.


Next Steps

You know yourself better than anyone. Ultimately, it’s your decision, but we can provide resources to help you make the choice that is right for you.

We designed the 30 Day-Challenge to help you become a candidate and run for office. The challenge consists of one small task every day for the month of January. By the end, you’ll have the roadmap for a successful campaign! Sign up for the 30 Day Challenge now.

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Running in a Red District

June 5, 2023

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