Eric Holmes ran in the primary elections for the Ogden, UT city council. While he didn’t win he did learn a number of valuable lessons about local government, elections and being a first time runner.
1. Peoples motivations for running can be a little more simpler and pure.
My first motivation was simply the love for my city. I think Ogden is great and I wanted to give back. I took action when I shared my desire to run with a few people and they responded positively. I knew that at least I would be representing a small group of Ogden, and that would motivate me to run my campaign.
2. Running for local office has a lot less hoops to jump through.
The only surprise was how easy it was to run. You register with a small filing fee, and then you’re good. At least in Ogden it was very easy to file for candidacy.
3. Campaigning itself can be a lot more casual and social media plays a bigger part.
I used an almost exclusive social media campaign. I did a bit of talking to press outlets, and I attended local events and chatted with people. But I really think social media was the best way to talk to people. People could see my beliefs and stances up front, and ask specific questions and get a quick response. Social media is great for easy voter education and outreach.
4. Money can still matter to a certain degree.
Money and fundraising is definitely still important for campaigning in a city Ogden’s size. Though not as important. I did not do any fundraising, and I got nearly 20% of the vote in a 5 person race. Granted the two candidates with the highest votes in the city received the most money in donations. Money is still important, and at least $1000 of fundraising is probably necessary to win an election in a city Ogden’s size unless you are an incumbent.
For federal election, the law requires you to file monthly or quarterly financial reports on campaign spending. To get matching campaign funds from the federal government, you’ll need to prove that you raised at least $5,000 in each of the minimum required 20 states, and then submit a letter and written certification to the FEC. Campaigns will also have to fill out forms for personal expenditures, debt settlements.
5. Compared to National elections, Local issues can be more practical.
Funny story, the question I received most was about whether permits should be required to have chickens and bees in your backyard. People were super passionate about it. There were also a lot of questions about public transport, improving local economy, and my personal political philosophy.
When we asked him which issue surprised him the most he told us : The chicken and bee permits. Seriously. I had people finding my number and calling me up. Super passionate…
6. Democrat, Republican , non of that matters too much at this level
In Ogden, parties are not directly involved, and I love that. In my opinion, party politics are too commonly used as a crutch to not do proper voter education and just vote for a candidate with the right letter in front of their name. It was nice to be in an election where you judged by your stance and philosophy, and not by which party you are a part of. I would say that it’s interesting how much people agree on things. It’s possible that I attracted questions from a like-minded group of people, but many folks care about the same issues, and just want something sensible and helpful to happen. It’s not as divisive as the state and national level. It’s nice to see, because the political landscape is usually so divisive.
7 . Local elections really make the difference
I learned what people really care about. I learned how to better educate myself on local issues, and how much a group of educated people can affect local government. People tend to focus on state and national issues, but there are many issues close to home that you can affect to a much greater degree than state and national issues.