Toss Your Hat in the Ring
Posted: January 9, 2013
The primary isn’t until May, and the general election won’t happen until next November, so why think about this now? Because if you plan to run for office, it’s time to get ready. To become a candidate you must circulate and submit a petition of candidacy – and you can only do that from mid-February to mid-March. In other words, you need to know very soon whether or not you’d like to give it a try.
You’re probably thinking this column is for somebody else, because the thought of being an elected official never crossed your mind. But maybe you should consider it.
Here are a few reasons why:
1. In many parts of Pennsylvania there aren’t enough candidates to fill all the seats. When citizens have no one to elect, they lose the opportunity to choose the people who, among other things, guide the future of the municipality and set local taxes.
2. Local government is where the action is – it’s where decisions are made about how your community will grow, what shape the streets are in, and which services are most important.
3. It’s fun. Really, it is. Yes there are a lot of meetings, and citizens will complain, but there’s also a tremendous sense of accomplishment in steering the community and getting things done.
4. Maybe it’s your turn. Public service is a great way to give back or pay it forward. And it sets a great example for your kids.
5. You’re young enough – your community needs your new thinking.
6. You’re old enough – your community needs your wisdom and experience.
Are you willing to think about it? Here are a few quick ways to find out if elected office is for you: Visit your municipality’s website (if they have one). Read meeting minutes, newsletters and other information from your municipality. You may have to stop by the municipal building to get these items if they’re not on the website. Attend one of the regular monthly meetings. Stay for the whole show. It’s budget and tax rate time, so you should be very interested in attending. Talk to your current elected officials. Ask them what they like best and least about public service.
If you’re willing to give it a whirl, check out Penn State Extension’s workshop Toss Your Hat in the Ring: How to Get Involved in Local Government. You’ll get plenty of good information about Pennsylvania local government along with details on the nuts and bolts of being a candidate.
The Cumberland County session will be Monday January 28, 7:00 -9:00 p.m. at Penn State Extension Cumberland County Office, 310 Allen Road, Carlisle. The workshop fee is $25.00 per person.
Register on-line http://agsci.psu.edu/local-government/carlisle or contact Penn State Extension Adams County (717) 334-6271.
Penn State encourages people with disabilities to participate in its programs and activities. If you anticipate needing any type of accommodation or have questions about the physical access provided, call the Penn State Extension Adams County, (717) 334-6271.