What to Consider Before Running for Office

01 July 2016
  League of Women Voters, as provided by Earl Goodwin

Before getting elected, public servants must figure out why they are running for an office.

Most often, people run for office because they are deeply committed to their community and want to impact the community at a higher level. At times, people run because they are passionate about a single issue or problem.

A single controversy - such as a land use or zoning decision - could dominate an entire election campaign. But once the election is over, things change. Candidates who’ve won elections based on their position on that one single issue soon discover that they are responsible for a much broader array of challenges. The issue they ran on may not even be on the Council’s agenda. Getting it placed there will only be possible if they are willing and able to work cooperatively with other members, many of whom will have their own issues to champion. To be effective, elected officials must work as part of a team to establish a shared vision for the future, make plans that make that future possible, and work with their colleagues and constituents to enact the policies and laws that will ultimately lead to accomplishment. Holding a public office is an act of service to the public - that is, service to all the citizens of their district, not just those who share your views or those who voted for you.  It is a challenge that requires every office holder to rise above the fray, to reach beyond comfort zones, and to work with others with whom they may have significant differences.

Rising to that challenge is what makes democracy work. It’s what makes shaping our own shared future possible. It’s what others have done before us. And it’s what has made our Town a place we can be proud of.