When you decide you want to run for public office you have to make a lot of important decisions. Before any of those decisions are made there is one question that you need to answer before anything else; what office should I run for?
If you’re considering running for office the choice of which office is best for you may seem daunting. However, if you’re motivated and ready to serve your community it doesn’t have to be overwhelming! Consider the following points to help you make your decision and get your campaign started today!
Chances are you aren’t a career politician with unlimited time and money to spend on your campaign and position.
You need to consider your constraints when you ask yourself “what office should I run for?”
Most people who run for office have plenty of other important commitments like their family and jobs. It’s important to consider your constraints (both time and financial) in your decision of which office to run for.
So, before you begin to deliberate in earnest about what office would be best for you make sure to sit down with the people in your life because running for any office will impact all of you.
Things to Consider
- Time Commitments – how much time can you all dedicate to the campaign and if you’re elected?
- Geography – will this position require a lot of traveling, how will that affect your life and family?
- Finances – will this campaign and/or position negatively affect your income, and how will you make up this income?
- Limelight – are you and your family willing to be the subject of public attention?
- Their Role – how willing are the people in your life to get involved with your race?
Every office comes with its own unique set of commitments. So, you should consider what you’re willing and able to give to a position. Therefore, if you have limited time you probably don’t want to launch a Congressional campaign which is almost a full-time job.
We generally advise political newcomers to start their public service careers at the local level. Offices like School Board, City Council, and County Clerk to name a few are perfect!
If you’re curious about what life is like for different office positions check out these testimonials from current and former politicians about life as a candidate
Now that you know how much time you can devote to your potential office it should cut down on your options and allow you to pick a position that best suits you.
Identify Your Main Issue
A question you should ask yourself right alongside “what office should I run for” is “what issues do I most want to effect?”
The next step to choosing the right office to run for is to identify your main issue. This is the issue or problem that pushed you to run for public office in the first place. Something that inspires you to get involved in your community and say “I can fix this!”
Chances are you may be motivated by many things. In order to find the right office to run for it’s important to identify your main issue. However, if you’re unsure of your specific motivation try taking our course Crafting Your Message. This will help identify what drives you and what skills you want to bring to your office.
Maybe you’re passionate about education: your local School Board would be a perfect office to run for!
Perhaps you’re motivated by local, municipal issues: your City Council would be the perfect office for you to create change.
Public service is all about motivated individuals who choose to use their skills and passions to enact change in their communities. So make sure the office you run for is a position where you’re free to pursue those passions and create change!
Time to Research!
With a good sense of your constraints and your motivations, you may feel like you have a good idea of what office to run for at this point, that’s great! But before you make the final choice it’s important to do some research.
What Office Should I Run For?
Once you know what motivates you and what you want to fix it’s time to figure out which office is responsible for fixing that issue or making decisions that affect it.
The research you do about the specific responsibilities of different positions can give you a better idea about which office will allow you to enact the most change. Research these offices on your own and contact current officeholders about their jobs to get firsthand accounts!
With a good idea about which office is best suited for you the next step is to figure out the logistics of running for that position.
The main questions you should be able to answer are:
- When is the position up for election next?
- Are you eligible to run?
- Is the incumbent running again, or will it be an open seat?
- Will you be running against another Democrat in a primary, or will you be the only Democrat in the race?
With this information you should have a better idea about the feasibility of running for a specific office and whether that office is right for you!
With all this introspection, discussion, and research we hope you have a better idea about what office you should run for.
If you’re interested in learning more about starting your campaign make sure to take our course So You Think You Want to Run to find out more.
Remember, there are so many important offices that need talented and passionate people like yourself to help create change. It’s just a matter of finding the one that’s right for you!