Have you ever considered running for a tribal office or position? As one generation passes the torch to the next, it’s time for our young progressive Native generation to step into the spotlight. It can sometimes be an awesome and intimidating task to approach a campaign. In this blog entry, I’d like to throw out some organizational campaign ideas and ask others to share theirs as well.
Where’s your passion?
Before running for office make sure to take the time to really examine why you want this office and what you intend to do if you are successful in getting elected. Develop a clear platform that you can relate to which is based upon that passion. Your genuine interest will shine through as you talk to community members because you are clearly “vested” in the future and want to be a proactive candidate to speak to the pertinent issues before you.
It may be true you can go it alone…but it might be tough. A circle of supporters that recognize your commitment, support your platform, and those which have ties to various generational age groups or organizations can help you move your agenda forward and get your name out to voters. Organizational meetings with “movers and shakers” from your defined group will go a long way in planning an effective campaign.
Are you qualified?
Be certain to check with your tribal election board to see if there are any pre-qualifications you may need to meet. There may be age limitations, blood quantum minimums, residency issues, and other regulations that you may need to adhere to.
Long before you declare your candidacy, attend community meetings, senior centers and organizations, student groups, civic organizations, friends and neighbors. Your goal should be to get an intimate understanding on how tribal policies and legislation directly affect your electorate. Listen closely to how and why voters may feel disenfranchised, what is working well and what needs work. You won’t be an effective leader if you are not aware of what and how issues affect those who may support you now or in the future. Advance planning can make all the difference in your electoral success. Don’t be a political candidate that only shows up near election time. Be genuine and real to who YOU are and what YOU want to accomplish
Declare your intent and get energized?
Make good use of your tribal newspaper and declare your intent to run. Be sure to take every opportunity to speak to tribal members about your platform and be present in your community at every opportunity. Don’t make promises you may not be able to keep. Be clear about your platform and reason for running. Avoid playing into name-calling or bashing any possible opponent.
Now RUN FOR IT!
-Written by We R Native blog author Constance Owl, an enrolled member of the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians in western North Carolina. firstname.lastname@example.org