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running for office with a disability | Factors to consider
- We’ve seen many in underserved communities such as women,
Muslim-Americans, and African American candidates to name a few runs for office.
But what about disabled candidates? One in four Americans is disabled, as are one in six voters. Then why are we
not seeing significant representation from the disabled community when running
In this article, Job Openings for disABLED Veterans walks you through becoming an advocate for your community so you can get out there and be the change.
Know Your Community
There’s a lot of groundwork that goes into running for office. You’ll want to do lots of research on your county legislation, state rules, and federal policies - but above all, prioritize getting to know your community. You can do this by reading about current issues, researching historical problems in the county, and getting multiple points of view on the same topics.
In addition, consider getting to the grassroots level - volunteer for local organizations, host free community events, and advocate for a cause or fundraiser in Clallam County. The more time you spend with the community, the more you’ll learn of the values and issues that need to be rectified. In addition, making yourself visible to your community will make it easier to be seen as a leader when it’s time to count those votes.
Thoughtfully Craft Your Campaign
After establishing yourself as a leader, you’ll want to start brainstorming your campaign strategy. The most important to-do is to develop a clear message that will win over voters and generate interest. Decide on your personal stance on issues in the community, and formulate your responses and solutions to that problem.
Don’t be afraid to get personal at this stage. Share your story, why you’re running, and similar issues you might have faced in the community. According to the Democratic Audit, voters need to empathize and relate to your background to trust you with their support and loyalty. If you’re comfortable, share your experience and how your disability has challenged you or motivated you to reach this place.
You will also want to ensure that you have foundational elements that will support your run. A well-designed website with pertinent information is critical for voters to learn more about your platform. Another must is setting up a consistent social media presence that caters to all kinds of people within your audience. Hire a speechwriter so that your messaging, communication, and talks have consistent language. A strong voice and brand will make you're run more accessible and understandable to a broader audience.
- Surround Yourself With the Best
You will need an army of qualified and supportive organizers backing you up. A campaign manager will be your main point of contact - the person who helps with day-to-day tasks as well as more comprehensive strategies and planning. They can help everything from making sure a venue is accessible for your disability to political branding and management. Other team members you’ll need to hire include a financial manager, political consultant, and coordinator. In addition, set yourself up with a great group of passionate volunteers to take you further in the game.
In addition to the best people, surround yourself with the best skills. Are there aspects of the campaign that you’d like to understand better? Watch online videos or speak to other politicians who have been through the same experiences. If you want to boost your personal and professional skillset, go back to school; for example, if you want to get your doctorate, online universities can help you achieve that goal with flexible schedules and affordable classes. And who knows? Going back to school may help inspire others in your community to do the same.
Running for office is an excellent way to bring about change within your community and beyond. While people with disabilities often feel intimidated at the thought of handling an entire campaign, never fear. Implement these tips to navigate your time in politics and give voice to underrepresented groups across the country.