Explainer Features Politics

Running for Local Office, Explained

“There’s a realization, a sort of a dawning of: I can’t sit on the sidelines anymore and watch what happens. I need to be involved.” – Jean Sinzdak

Our democracy works best when we as a community engage with it. When we talk with our elected officials, vote in our elections, and yes – run as candidates in those elections.

Roughly 35% of state legislative elections run uncontested, ones where only one candidate runs for that office and wins without any competition. That number grows higher at the local level.

That’s why you – yes, you – should consider running for office.

If you’ve never run for local office before, it can be a bit intimidating. As the local election year kicks off, let’s take a look at how it all works.


Your first stop is the County Election Commission office. You’ll pick up a petition there. It lists out which office you’re running for and has space for 25 signatures at the bottom. With the petition in hand, you’re out the door and on to collecting signatures.

To qualify and be on the ballot, you’ll need 25 signatures of registered voters in the district you’re running for. If you’re running to be a county commissioner for district three, you’ll collect signatures from only district three. If you’re running to be the city mayor, you’ll collect signatures from anywhere in the city limits.

Once you’ve got 25 register voters to sign that petition, you’re headed back to the Election Commission office. Shelia Allen, the Administrator of Election, verifies those signatures you’ve collected and qualifies your candidacy.

Once you’re qualified, you’re on the ballot for this election!

Why You Should Run

All too often, we stay out of local politics. Maybe it’s the small paychecks. Maybe it’s the busy work schedule. Maybe it’s a feeling that it’s a good old boys club where others aren’t welcome.

“Our democracy depends upon citizens deeply engaging in the democratic process and choosing to lead by running for office.” – Jim Cupples

Decisions are made by the people that show up. If you want to help our community move forward, head down to the election commission and pick up that qualifying petition. Run for one of those open spots – county commissioner, city alderman, even mayor.

The fall elections determine the course of our city and county for the next four years. Show up and start making those decisions.

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