If you’re a person with a disability who is interested in running for office, you’re preparing for quite a journey. There are a lot of factors to consider and steps to complete to ensure that you can have a strong campaign that ends with you getting elected. If you want to give yourself the best chance at success, here are some tips courtesy of Take Action Inc. on running for office as a person with a disability.
Have Great Credentials
While having specific professional or educational credentials often isn’t a necessity if you’re running for office, that doesn’t mean they can’t make you a stronger candidate. With an advanced degree, you may be able to separate yourself from the pack, particularly if it’s a master’s or doctorate in a field that benefits your community.
If you’re looking for an advanced degree program that can fit into a busy schedule, consider an online program. You may be able to learn at your own pace, ensuring you can complete your online coursework while handling your other personal and professional responsibilities. You can also get certificates to add to your resume through online programs like edX, Udemy, and Coursera to develop important, applicable skills without the hassle of getting a formal degree.
Build and Manage a Strong Team
Running for office isn’t usually a one-person job. Most successful candidates have a team behind them, ensuring they have the necessary amount of support and guidance.
The exact expertise you need to secure may vary depending on the office you’re trying to win. However, you may need some (or all) of these professionals:
Take steps to create a time management plan for your team to keep everyone on task. Eliminate time-wasting activities, such as doing work that could be delegated to someone else, misplacing files and materials, and spending too much time making unnecessary phone calls.
Define Your Platform
Approximately 61 million adults– or 26 percent of the population– in the United States have a disability. However, the percentage of elected officials with disabilities is far below that, coming in closer to 10 percent. As a result, individuals with disabilities are broadly underrepresented.
As a disabled person, leading with a disability-friendly platform is wise. You have a unique perspective on that community since you are a member of it, and that can work in your favor. Not only will you be able to connect with other people with disabilities with greater ease, but you’ll also be able to be their voice, potentially creating real change if elected.
However, you also need to define your platform beyond that. Consider which issues are crucial in your community as well as the various positions people hold in regards to them. Reflect on your goals, values, and priorities. Then, decide what else your platform is going to feature, ensuring you can find a way to connect with critical voters inside and outside of the disabled community.
Political campaigns can be quite expensive. Exactly how much yours will cost depends on a range of factors, including the office you’re trying to land, your current reputation in your community, advertising rates, the number of voters in your target voting area, and more.
Most people don’t pay for all of their campaign expenses out-of-pocket. Instead, they use a variety of funding sources.
For federal elections, PACs and Super PACs are two of the most talked-about resources. With PACs, there may be direct support to a campaign or indirect support, such as paying for advertising they create that favors a candidate. Super PACs only offer indirect support, but it can still reduce how much a candidate has to spend.
However, those aren’t the only approaches available. Exactly which options a candidate can use depends on local and federal campaign finance laws. They let you know what you can raise, how much each individual can donate, and how you have to report those contributions.
Make sure to review the rules in your area and in accordance with the level of office you’re trying to land. That way, you can stay on the right side of the law.
Running for office as a person with a disability can seem challenging and, at times, completely overwhelming, but it is possible. By surrounding yourself with great people, developing a winning strategy, and learning how to balance and manage everything that comes across your desk, you can lead your campaign to victory!
Youth-led Take Action Inc. aims to empower and inspire the youth to raise their voice and take action effectively for a cause that is meaningful to them. To learn more about us and to learn how you can contribute, please get in touch with us by clicking here.
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