Why don’t more people run?

Thought for your weekend: This is the time of year when nomination papers get taken out for spring elections. I have had a bit of involvement with trying to recruit people to run in local elections (which are non-partisan). It’s tougher than it may sound to get people to run.

The vast majority of local incumbents will again be unopposed in our area. I would venture to guess that will also be true statewide.

Have you ever thought about running for a local office? Maybe your local school board, city council, or county board? What has held you back from running? Why do you think more people do not choose to run?

One thought on “Why don’t more people run?

  1. Rodger Thomann December 15, 2017 / 2:05 pm

    Great questions, Mason. Like you, as a school board member I have tried to muster candidates in Fort Atkinson for the past decade. What a challenge.

    I always felt a contested race offered the citizens a chance to hear at least two visions, two sets of ideas, two individuals’ perspectives and experiences, etc. Even if the candidates were not that different and each offered useful talents, backgrounds, etc., it brought more attention to the race and the many local issues impacting each of us.

    Local governance touches each of our lives greatly every day, and even with local control constantly eroded, it does far more for citizens to get involved, vote, engage with public leaders, actively participate in a campaign / organization / cause, run for office, etc., than to merely grumble and complain about issues.

    I think many individuals do not choose to run for office because they cannot commit the time, feel the compensation is poor, mistakenly feel they do not have the right talents / skills, or needlessly fear the potential criticism some may express on their decisions. Sure, there is no way to please everyone, and there can be challenging decisions to make and topics to research and learn about while holding a local office, but there also is a great sense of satisfaction is listening to all stakeholders and having a role in bringing about improvements that positively impact many of your neighbors. Local governance’s greatest rewards are in growing one’s knowledge and skills, having a hand in positively changing your community, and paying forward the opportunities others offered you in the past.

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