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By Eric Eisenhammer, Director of Grassroots Operations

Your Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association often encourages citizen taxpayers to hold elected leaders accountable by attending meetings, staying informed on local government decisions and advocating for fiscally responsible policies.

Perhaps you’ve already gotten involved and taken these actions and they have not produced an improvement. If that’s the case, it may be time for you to consider running for office yourself.

People who hold elected office don’t have any superpowers. They’re just people who stepped up and ran, talked to their friends and neighbors and then won their elections. You don’t need to feel intimidated if you’re not rich or don’t have great speaking skills.

In actuality, to be successful as a candidate, you will need to have a good work ethic and be willing to knock on doors, raise funds for your campaign and show up at community meetings to meet people and answer questions. If you win your election, these are also personality traits that will help you to be successful in a position of leadership.

If you’re willing to put in the hard work, your next step should be to look at what offices are coming up for election in your community and what the requirements are to run. Check the websites of the county elections official, school board or city clerk, or call their offices. You may need to file petition signatures in support of your candidacy and fill out other types of paperwork. Be sure to keep close track of deadlines and complete relevant paperwork carefully. Small mistakes can result in your being disqualified from the ballot.

California’s primary election is scheduled for June 7, 2022, but it is by no means too soon to begin your campaign. You may be able to start gathering signatures as early as December.

Local offices like your city council or county board of supervisors are officially nonpartisan. Most voters will want to hear your plans on issues like public safety, job creation and spending local tax dollars responsibly. Consider taking a survey of friends and neighbors to find out what issues are their top priorities.

Include people you trust and respect in your campaign as advisors and listen to their advice. Having a core group of people to help you will be invaluable in every aspect of your campaign, from fundraising to knocking on doors. You may also have friends with special skills like accounting, website development or graphic design who would be willing to volunteer their time and talent to help you.

Once, a young person who considered running for office shared with a local county supervisor that he felt like he wasn’t ready yet. The supervisor said, “If you wait until you’re ready to run, you won’t run until you’re so old you can’t find the meeting!ˮ

Indeed. Don’t let fear or insecurity hold you back if you know you can do a good job. In fact, if you want to run but are wondering if you’re leadership material, you probably are!