How to Make a Difference by Running for Elected Office
How are you making a difference for people with disabilities? Maybe you speak up for employing people with disabilities in your own life or lobby lawmakers to make communities more accommodating. But if you’re looking for a way to make a big impact, why not try a run for public office? Running for office is no easy undertaking, especially for people with disabilities. However, with so many people with disabilities underrepresented in government and underserved in our communities, it’s also a powerful — and necessary — step to take.
Are you ready to take the leap and get on the campaign trail? Here’s where to start.
Decide Where to Run
The mayor’s office isn’t the only office to aim for. In addition to mayor, consider submitting your candidacy to become a city council person, school board president or another local government official. Local positions like these are a great place for people new to politics to get their feet wet. You’ll also need to decide on which party you want to represent.
Build a Fundraising Strategy
Raising funds for a political campaign isn’t easy, especially if you’re like many people with disabilities who earn less than their non-disabled peers.
It’s not easy covering reasonable needs like a personal assistant or the cost of running for election. If you intend to run for office, you’ll need to start fundraising early to pay for it. Read up on campaign finance law, reach out to organizations aligned with your cause to find support, and give crowdfunding a try. While online crowdfunding for political campaigns is a relatively new idea, it’s gained a lot of traction in recent elections.
Arm Yourself with the Right Campaign Team
Of course, you’ll need a top-notch team to help get the word and help you raise the money you need for a campaign. But what if you can’t afford a huge team consultant? You can still craft a strong message even with a small budget by relying on freelancers.
Whether you need a graphic designer to create a snappy campaign logo or a content writer to type up a compelling message for your crowdfunding campaign, you can find the help you need by hiring freelancers. If you can’t find the right freelancers in your local network, turn to online job boards that can connect you with independent workers in a wide range of industries.
Assembling a top-notch team and running a campaign also involves making sure everyone is working with capable equipment, so make sure your staff all have updated smartphones and tablets so they can complete tasks efficiently and effectively. On top of that, your campaign will need access to fast and reliable internet with powerful bandwidth.
Proactively Address Accessibility
If you’re running for elected office and you have a disability, you may also want to hire a personal assistant for your campaign. The campaign trail is full of challenges with election events, and it will be crucial to have someone help you proactively navigate these challenges to avoid finding yourself shut out of the conversation.
Keep in mind that hiring a personal assistant makes you an employer. As an employer, you have certain responsibilities, such as not discriminating in the hiring process and having a written contract for your PA.
People with disabilities face numerous hurdles other candidates don’t when it comes to running for office. However, while overcoming these challenges may make your candidacy harder, you shouldn’t let it stop you. Only by increasing representation of people with disabilities in government can we create a government that truly reflects the populace it serves.
Article written by Ed Carter www.ablefutures.org