Endlessly Curious

How To Qualify To Run For Local And State Office

March 28, 2018

In the wake of the 2016 presidential election, many previously apolitical citizens have come to the forefront of political change. Running for local and state office is one way people are trying to make a difference.

 

Nadia Hashimi is a pediatrician, writer and candidate for Maryland’s 6th District. She was motivated by recent political events to step away from her medical career to run for Congress. Randy Bryce is also running for Congress in Wisconsin to replace Speaker of the House Paul Ryan. He is a veteran and union worker in the steel industry and this would mark the beginning of his career in public office.

Qualifying for local and state office is a relatively quick and easy process, but it comes at a cost. Qualification fees and the cost of campaigning can be discouraging.

Last year in Georgia’s 6th Congressional District, a total of $30 million was spent by candidates and groups, according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. The race remains one of the most expensive in congressional history. Qualifying fees for Georgia candidates for state office in 2016 ranged from about $400 to $5,000.

However, it still remains quite simple to at least qualify to run.

The qualifications and disqualifications for candidacy vary based on position.

The first step to running for office once you know you meet all the qualifications is to contact your local elections supervisor for information on dates and locations. Jeannetta Watson is the Bibb County Elections Supervisor and she can be reached at [email protected].

When it is time to pay your candidacy fee, you will need a valid ID and a declaration of candidacy if you are running as a party member or a notice of candidacy if you are running as a non-partisan candidate. Those forms can be found on the Georgia Secretary of State’s website.

The application process takes about two weeks. Then comes the campaigning, which has become much more elaborate than shaking hands and kissing babies. Even candidates in state elections often hire professionals to conduct polls and coordinate with donors. Social media has also transformed campaigning into a complex process of research and outreach.

Unfortunately, many people still do not vote in local and state elections. Motivating citizens to vote and fundraising may seem like insurmountable barriers, but participation in local and state elections through voting and running are important aspects of democracy.

 

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