The filing period to appear on the ballot for the City of Houston November election runs from July 22 – August 21.
Before you file to run for Mayor, City Council, or Controller do yourself, your family, and your friends a favor by investigating the office before running for the office. Here are a few tips and questions you might want to consider before signing up. I am sure a political consultant might want to add a few other tips to this list.
Follow the law. Running for office requires you to follow the laws of the State governing elections such as filing timely financial reports disclosing donations and expenditures. Visit the Texas Ethics Commission website BEFORE you run, not after a complaint has been filed. A complaint could be very costly to you and your treasurer. Also visit the Campaign Finance webpage for the City of Houston at http://www.houstontx.gov/campaignfinance/
It’s not a game. Running for office is not a game. There is nothing cute about running. It is very, very, tough work for the candidate and your volunteers. The position has a direct impact on people’s lives whether it is timely trash collection, providing a safe neighborhood with our police and our fire fighters, or protecting our country from foreign and domestic threats. Don’t cheapen the office by running just for the sake of running and distracting from those who have a clear understanding of what they are doing and are qualified to run.
It will cost money. Lots of money. A run for a City Council at Large seat could cost a couple hundred thousand dollars. This will include money to run a successful campaign to target the needed number of voters to win. If you do not intend to raise the necessary amount of money needed, then do not run, Do the math before you sign. Understand what the campaign will need and how much this will cost and whether you can raise that amount. It’s not just about buying a boat load of signs.
What qualifications do you bring to the table? Our government allows anyone to put their name on the ballot but some shouldn’t. Ask yourself if you understand the position you are running for. Do you have qualifications or personal experience that would apply to this position? Do you understand the process used to pass legislation, and do you know the players behind the scenes? Have you been involved in your community that you want to represent?
How many votes do you need to win? This is a hard question and is never an exact science but you can determine, with analysis of the past elections, an idea of the number of votes needed to push you over the top. This number will drive your campaign strategy and fundraising efforts. If you can’t answer this question then you really shouldn’t run.
How much money will it take to win? The number of votes you need to win will drive your fundraising efforts. As said above, running for office is not a game and it costs money. You will be on the phone for hours a day raising campaign cash in order to achieve that winning number.
Who is your financial base? Who will you be depending upon to achieve your financial goals in order to achieve that winning number of votes?
Who is your volunteer base? Who will be there to make phone calls for you or block walk in the hot sun? Do you have a base of supporters or do you intend to file and expect your political clubs to drop what they are doing and support you? A campaign will strain your relationships with family and friends. It’s a grueling undertaking requiring a considerable amount of dedication and support. You should have buy in from your family and those you expect to support you before you sign up.
Good luck and thank you for running or deciding not to.