Running for Office

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Running for Office

Have you ever considered running for a office, whether in the tribe, on the school board or in the state or federal legislature?

Where's your passion?

Before running for office, examine your motivation and what you intend to do if you are successful in getting elected. Develop a clear platform based around 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.

Get organized

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 who 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 to see if there are any pre-qualifications you may need to meet. There may be age limitations, blood quantum minimums (for tribal office), residency issues, and other regulations that you may need to adhere to.

Get support

Long before you declare your candidacy, attend community meetings, senior centers and organizations, student groups, civic organizations, friends and neighbors to learn what people want. 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 social media and declare your intent to run. Be sure to take every opportunity to speak about your platform and be present in your community. 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. Remember, serving in public office is a privilege, and the dignity of the office should be upheld.


Acknowledgement: Originally written by We R Native blog author Constance Owl, an enrolled member of the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians in western North Carolina.

Many articles in this section were adapted from, a website for Native Youth by Native Youth