Winning an election is no small task. Even for a district or a town election, it is necessary to go all in with campaigning, raising funds, gathering volunteers and reaching out to individual voters. It is not surprising that candidates prefer to be backed by a party because it streamlines a lot of the campaign tasks.
However, even nonpartisan candidates can contest and win a local election without party backing. All they have to do is get a campaign running and convince the community that they are well in touch with the issues and are qualified to bring about some change.
For a school board election, you should start early and get involved before announcing your candidacy. You do not need a lot of funds or party affiliation if you are a familiar face in your community. A few more ways to improve your chances of winning as a nonpartisan candidate are detailed below.
Participate in the community
As I’ve already mentioned, getting recognized is very important to be seen as a viable candidate. So you should participate in the community even before you announce your candidacy for a school board election.
Attend school board meetings and talk with people who take an active role in the local issues. Volunteer to work at community events and you’d get a chance to network with potential supporters and influential people living in the locality.
Get vocal on local issues
As you move into campaigning, many voters would want to know your position on the issue that they most care about. You need one prime issue to be the focus of your campaign messages. However, when you address your voters, talk about the latest concerns of the community and how you’d handle them.
Having a vocal stance on every issue shows that you are not just a poseur repeating a single message to win votes but are well-informed to discuss other issues as well.
Send personalized mail to voters
In an election with relatively fewer voters, it is better to approach every one of them with personalized mail. Get a list of people who voted in the previous school board elections.
You could do handwritten mail for every one of them and even go out to deliver some yourself. People in smaller communities appreciate such gestures and it is a great way to show that you are serious about getting their vote.
Introduce yourself to people
Delivering handwritten campaign literature is one thing, but the people will only be able to work out how genuine you are if you interact with them in your own words. So go door-knocking and tell them about your campaign.
Answer their questions and listen to any other concern they might have regarding the school district. Going door-to-door shows people that you are available to know their perspective. This will get them to extend support for you in return.
Get an online presence
While meeting voters in person is preferable, it is not feasible for an entire school district, more so in case of a large one. So you have to adopt the web and social media into your campaign.
Start off with getting a website with information about you, your history and your position on issues. Host logos and copies of brochures for the media on the site. Maybe, have a Q&A section with answers to the most frequently raised questions too. You should also create profiles on Facebook and Twitter and link to them from your website and vice-versa so your supporters can get updates directly.
Get a campaign committee
Now even though a campaign can be run without any party backing, it cannot be done on your own. So you’d need people you can trust for advice and supporters to carry it forward.
Maybe you’d find some like-minded people in the community events and meetings you attend. Ask friends, colleagues, and neighbors to volunteer and delegate tasks to different teams. Recognize close advisors and have them manage the volunteers to alleviate the load of the campaign.
Identify voter groups to understand their concern
When you reach out to voters about giving their support to the campaign, you have to identify the right approach which would get their attention. Bringing up all the local issues and your perspective would project you as a good candidate but your strategy should be to put the voter and their situation first. So you should know which of those issues actually matter and affect the voter when you reach out to them.
Divide the voters into identifiable groups like retired members of the school community, parents of school children, teachers etc. That would give you a better idea of which of those issues would be of primary interest to them. Structure your message around the issue when you ask for their support.
These measures ensure that even a candidate with no prior experience in running for office can successfully contest for a local election. You have to get in touch with the community and take the campaign off the ground with their support.