Thursday, February 23, 2023

If you are thinking of running for Metro Council don't delay, get busy, declare.

by Rod Williams, 2/14/2023- Are you thinking of running for Metro Council? If so, it is time to declare.  The filing deadline for the Aug. 3 election is on May 18.  If it were me and I was going to run, I would have declared weeks ago but would have been laying the groundwork for months.  However, it is not too late, but it is getting late. 

Here are some things to ask or things to know before you decide to run.

Why do you want to run? 

I can't answer that for you but you need to know. 

Do you really want to serve? 

If you think serving in the council is only attending meetings two nights a month, you are mistaken. It you do the job right it is a hard job. In addition to the Council meetings, there are committee meetings, meetings with government officials, developers or those seeking zoning changes, meetings with constituents who have complaints and civic functions to attend. There is always a report you should read. And there are phone call after phone call to answer. Serving in the Council is a demanding second job. It pays $23,1oo a year. 

How hard is it to run for Council?

That depends on who your opposition is.  It is much harder to unseat an incumbent than to run for an empty seat. Not that sometimes incumbents are not beat, but incumbents have the advantage. Assuming there is no incumbent, then it depends on who else is running in your district. You have to be a better candidate than your opponent. Sometimes people just throw their names out there and see what happens. Others run determined to give it their all. If you are serious about running and giving your all, then campaigning is really hard work.

So, just how hard?

You need lots of money, friends with money who will support you, or lots of energy and lots of time. Lots of time and energy can beat lots of money. But I would say if you can't contribute or raise at least a couple thousand dollars initially you are wasting your time, but again not necessarily so, because you may be lucky, and no serious candidate may seek the seat except you. 

Assume you have a serious opponent or opponents, how hard?  

Unless you can overwhelm your opponent by spending more than he or she, you need to work harder than you have ever worked. Running for Council will be like a second full-time job. You may need to spend your vacation time campaigning or take unpaid leave from your job.

So specifically, what are some things to consider before you run?

  • Are your electable? If you are living in a very liberal district and you have been a publicly vocal conservative who has posted a lot on social media, that is hard to overcome. If you have a criminal record, that is hard to overcome. If you are unknown now, you can overcome that but you need something that would make people want to vote for you.
  • Do you have a good bio? Do you have an impressive job or accomplishments? Have you had a leadership role in a neighborhood organization? What about church membership? It used to be important, but I don't think that it necessarily is any longer but in some parts of the county, attending church or belonging to a church can still help.  Having been a deacon, or Sunday School leader, or head of the Building Committee looks good. Do you have a college degree? If no degree did you attend college? I think the electorate generally values a college education. Are you a member of a civic or charitable organization, such as the Kawanis Club, or local Chamber of Commerce? Were you active in a school parents' group like the PTA? What is the reason people should vote for you?
  • Do you have the resources? Money, Time. Energy. Support of family. 
Maybe I should wait to see who else is running before I jump in?

No! By announcing you might keep someone else from deciding to run.  If you jump in you don't have to stay in if you determine you can't win or just change your mind. You can start campaigning but stop at any time. The qualifying deadline is May 18, but you have up until May 25, 2023 at noon to withdrawal. So, if you want to run, don't wait. 

Is it possible for a Republican to win in Davidson County?  

Yes. In certain districts being a Republican is not a detriment. I am not talking about just moderate Republicans like Beth Harwell, but there are districts where the majority voted for Donald Trump. To see a map of those Republican areas of the county, follow this link to a previous blog post (There is no reason three Republican House seats could not be carved out for Davidson County.). Also, currently Robert Swope who serves in the Council was a paid campaign staffer for Trump in Tennessee in 2016.  He was an avowed Republican. Also, Steve Glover won county-wide for a Council at-large seat.  Glover self-identified as a conservative, was active in conservative causes and did not hide he was a Republican. 

If you are seeking a seat on one of those districts that does not vote Republican, it is still possible to run and win.  The Council races are not partisan, and one does not have to declare their political identity and we do not have party registration in Tennessee.  Stick to the issues that matter in a race for the Council and it is possible for a Republican to even win in a very liberal district. 

So, what do I need to do?

The first thing is to appoint a campaign treasurer. You can't raise or spend any money until you do that. The next thing I recommend is to write a good press release announcing your candidacy and send it to all the local media, big and small. Establish an on-line presence like a website or Facebook campaign page. 

Where can I get help?

 The Election Commission is a good source of information for all the how-to stuff like filing a form appointing a treasurer and voter registration and important dates. Use them.  Reach out to current and former council members and ask for help. Call the Davidson Republican County Republican Party and ask if they can offer advice.  It has been a long time since I have served in office or worked in a campaign in any other capacity than knocking doors and working in a phone bank, but I have some knowledge and insights I can share and would be glad to talk to a conservative candidate thinking of running for office. I'll be glad to meet and have a cup of coffee with you.  You can call me at 615-509-3900.

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