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Advice from an Expert

Jessica Byrd
@JessicaLByrd
Three Point Strategies

What are best practices for gathering campaign volunteers?

Everything you do is a volunteer recruitment opportunity! You shouldn’t go anywhere without a clipboard to recruit volunteers. Just like donors, volunteers only come when asked. So ask at house parties and the local festivals and anytime you’re in a group of people. Come up with fun ways for people to engage like a regular phone bank or canvass that has a theme. Always remember you must make recruitment calls AND reminder calls the night before the event.

And food, every volunteer event must have food.

When there is a crowded field how do you engage during "visits" without sharing info that may be re-shared with opponents?

You know, this really depends on the information that you’re talking about. If there are specific endorsements, policy ideas, or spending that you want to keep confidential in the beginning, then you’ll probably be keeping it close to your chest anyway. But once the race is going, If you’re building a competitive and exciting campaign that’s people powered, than who cares? Keep your eyes on the voters you want to engage, and they have to hear your vision clearly. Your opponent can’t duplicate an authentic campaign anyway, so shout your awesomeness from the rooftops.

Do you feel age is a main factor when deciding whether to run for office

Nope! Think about the job responsibilities and whether your perspective and experience (personal & professional) would make you a good fit. New voices of any age are needed and exciting to voters.

Do you think August is a bad month to conduct an announcement event?

It depends on where you live but that is usually a vacation and down time month for many families. But! There are exceptions, I could definitely see a candidate running for school board announcing their candidacy on the first day/week of school for instance. You want the most bang for your time/resources, when will the most people be paying attention?

Do you have any suggestions on where to go to find open political offices in the your city/state. I live in Chicago.

I don’t know of one place to find open seats, unfortunately you’ll have to dig around. I recommend

How can we build trust among black women to support each other?

Like any other community, building trust means authentic relationships. We have to show up for each other even when it’s hard, we have to trust each other even when we’re scared, we have to listen to each other’s voices even when they are different from ours. Black women are so diverse in experience, approach to the world, and even our public policy needs. When we are in service to each other, nothing can stop us.

Running for re-election next year...how much of my campaign plan should I keep from my first win or should I just scrap it and start over?

This is a great question for a kitchen cabinet debrief! Pull together the people who know you and know your area best and ask yourself how your district/community/city has changed since your first race. Have there been an influx of new residents? Is there a new public policy issue? How has the national climate changed your messaging? How is your opponent different from first time around? Dig deep, be honest in these conversations. Keep what worked before and edit what you need now. Good luck!

3-5 years out what's the best way to prepare to run for office? What the best way to establish a community presence/social capital?

Show up, show up, show up! You should be attending local meetings, volunteering on other campaigns, making friends with other local leaders and thinking critically about what your community needs. Keep good relationships, create a simple database for your contacts, always be building that list of people, and keep your eye on the seat/s you’re interested in - you’d be surprised how fast the political climate of a place changes. The closer you are to community, the easier it’ll be to launch when the time comes. Be ready!

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