Have you ever wished you could make a real difference in your community? Of course, there are countless ways to make a positive impact, from volunteering at a charity to starting a business that boosts your local economy. But when you really want to effect change as a disabled Veteran, perhaps the best way to accomplish your goals is to run for office.
Maybe you’ve thought about taking this step but you aren’t sure what to expect, especially as a person living with a disability. Military Missions in Action shares some tips on what you’ll need to know before you get started.
Boost Your Knowledge Base
The main thing that any first-time candidate should realize is that you don’t have to be an expert before running for office. Sure, you want to have an idea of what to expect, but much of the process involves learning as you go.
That’s why the first step is to start learning everything you can. Reading up on the logistics of becoming a candidate is helpful, but you’ll learn even more by talking to people who have been there. Connect with other political candidates, especially ones who also have a disability, as learning from their experiences will be incredibly valuable.
Build Your Campaign Team
If you decide to move forward as a candidate, you’ll need to put together a campaign team before doing anything else. As Master Class explains, there are some roles that are necessary for any campaign staff, while others may only be needed for certain types of campaigns. At a minimum, you’ll want to have a campaign manager and a treasurer. Additionally, you may also need staff to manage fundraising, events, and communications.
The first place you turn for help may be your own network, including friends and family members who already support your goals. Remember that you want your team to be passionate about your campaign, but experience matters too, especially when it comes to communicating with the voters. If you don’t know someone who is qualified to handle press releases, we suggest searching for press releases services through an online job board that specializes in connecting freelancers with jobs that fit their experience.
Make a Plan
Once your campaign team is established, you’ll be ready to make a plan of action. We recommend setting a campaign timeline and choosing resources for staying organized, such as a spreadsheet or campaign software, which will be highly valuable in setting your goals.
Budget and Fundraising: Many people mistakenly assume they need to be wealthy in order to run for office. This couldn’t be further from the truth, but you do need to set a budget and develop a fundraising strategy.
Your Platform: This step is where you and your team brainstorm why you’re running for office and what you want to accomplish. Along with broader issues that you want to address, this is the perfect opportunity to work towards greater accessibility for those with disabilities. After all, accessibility is a positive change for communities that delivers both social and economic benefits.
Outreach: Your outreach plan includes all aspects of communication, such as developing a website and marketing materials, planning events, and making a plan for canvassing. The blog She Should Run recommends making outreach as inclusive as possible, and thankfully, this can be as simple as choosing a web designer who is familiar with accessibility needs.
Get in Front of Voters
With all the planning you do, this final step may be most crucial to your success. Your constituents need to see you and connect with you, which may pose a challenge for someone with a disability. This is another step where it helps to learn how others have adapted, such as using a golf cart for canvassing or bringing your own podium to events.
We know how intimidating it may feel to set out on such a major endeavor. The challenges you face may even be overwhelming, but that’s exactly why people with disabilities should run for office. The world needs to hear from you — and your community needs the advantages that only you can bring to the job.
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