Lessons learned from campaigning

  1. Petitions—you need at least 50 signatures, but you should get many more, in case some of them get thrown out.  Don’t let people use ditto marks (if they live at the same address as the person who signed above them, for instance.)  Only registered voters can sign.  Use signature gathering as a way of introducing your candidacy to people—don’t just have your friends sign.  Ask the County Clerk about how to fill out the top of the petition pages.  They are not allowed to look at your completed form and tell you if it’s right, but they can tell you ahead of time what each blank should say.  Make sure you get the election date right.


  1. Fliers – you’ll want to have some of these printed up early on.  If you know someone who’s a graphic designer, they may be able to help you put a little flair into it, but the printers will also work with you.  Use a union print shop if you can, and ask them to put a union symbol on your flier so people know you did that.  You may want to leave space to add endorsements, because those may come later in the election cycle.


  1. Yard signs – some people think these make a big difference in an election, so you probably want to plan to have these.  At the very least, have enough to put one or two at every polling place that allows it.  (The County Clerk website has a list of all locations that allow signs.)  Again, use a union print shop and put the union symbol on the signs.  Try to figure out the number ahead of time—I ordered WAY too many of these!  Don’t put the election date on the signs (so you can reuse them in the next election.)  If you start putting signs up when the ground is still frozen, bring along a big screwdriver and a mallet.  Make two holes in the ground with the screwdriver, put the metal of the sign in the holes, and then pound in with the mallet.  If you pound on the sign itself, you might damage it so it’s harder to read.  Don’t put up signs too early, but have them ready to go about a month before the election.  Call and/or email everyone you know to try to get signs in the most visible places in town.  Keep a list of where you’re leaving your signs, so you can pick them up after the election.  You can either save them for the next election or recycle them by dropping them off at Mack’s.  When you pick up the signs they will be grubby!  You might want to put a tarp down in your car.


  1. Door to door work – It’s hard work going door to door to ask strangers to vote for you, but most people *really* appreciate your making the effort.  Dress for the weather, wear comfortable shoes, bring fliers to hand out (or leave in the door if nobody’s home), and pace yourself—it’s tiring work.  You can get a list from the clerk of voters, so you don’t go to houses with no voters.  Or you can just hit every house and also urge people to register to vote.  Bring paper to write down phone numbers or email addresses of people who want to help with your campaign.  Some people may want to give you their card, so have a place to keep those too.  Don’t ever leave fliers in the mailbox.  It’s against the law, and you don’t want people complaining about your campaign.  Make sure you mention this to anybody who hands out fliers for you.


  1. Questionnaires – you may get LOTS of these.  It’s worth spending the time to get the earlier ones right, because you may be able to just copy your answers on the later ones.


  1. Forums – write out your introduction ahead of time, and practice saying it to make sure you can get in all the important points within the time limit.


  1. Other candidates – you are going to have to work with some subset of your opponents, so it makes sense to have as good a relationship with all of them as possible.  You may not agree with everything they say, but for the most part, people run for school board because they truly care about the children in the community.  Don’t bad-mouth or backstab.  Help each other out wherever possible.  Don’t steal or obscure other candidate’s signs.  I’ve even heard of candidates who put their opponent’s signs back up when they had fallen over.


  1. Speaking to people in the community – even if people disagree with you, they appreciate being heard by you.  Listen to people’s concerns and try to learn from them.



2 Responses to “Lessons learned from campaigning”

  1. pattsi Says:

    Are you announcing your candidacy for something since the next BOE election will not occur until 2017? 🙂

  2. charlesdschultz Says:

    lol, no – this was compiled by Kathy Shannon, who wanted to share about her experiences. It is a work-in-progress, as we intend to modify it a little bit.

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