Life of a City Councilor
Women all over the country are mobilizing and getting involved in their communities. From organizing petitions to joining boards and city commissions, it is the year of women’s involvement! If you are looking for your next opportunity, local city councils are a fantastic way to get started.
You may be thinking, I have no idea what it takes to run for city council. I’m nowhere near qualified.
But before you believe this, answer this question: do you care about your city and the folks in your community? If you answered yes, as I’m sure you did, then you are more than qualified to run for City Council. I sat down with one of my city councilors, Jen Goings, to hear what skills helped her win her first council campaign and now help her serve her city effectively.
- Work on your public and extemporaneous speaking styles.
Practice what you want to say in front of others. If you don’t have anyone to practice in front of, record yourself. Pay attention to what you do with your hands, your facial gestures, and posture as you are speaking. All these things communicate to your audience as much as your words do. Know what you stand for and know how to communicate it because when you are going door to door, your first impression is what gets you past the welcome mat.
- Get comfortable with fundraising.
It’s inherently uncomfortable. When we are fundraising, we are asking other people to help fund our personal goals and dreams. But this is not a selfish request–our goals are to improve the community we all live in. An effective fundraiser knows her audience and what issues matter most to them. Give a specific list of what the money would be going to, like yard signs, brochures, campaign events. To know specifically where their money is going will help your donors to feel more involved and connected to your campaign.
- Learn to really listen.
Throughout this campaign, you’re going to run into people who do not agree with you, do not want to hear what you have to say, and will not support you. But when you can see these as learning opportunities instead of moments of discouragement, you’ll move forward. Listen to what your non-supporters say, as they are telling you exactly what they need from their representatives. In the end, these non-supporters could become your constituents and they’ll need your support just as much as you’ll need theirs.
They mayor of a town is essentially the president of the City Council, and it’s a viable next step for anyone looking to pursue further political responsibility. According to the Center for American Women and Politics, just 25% of American cities have women serving as mayor. Women are working to make women’s path to higher office more attainable every day, and in order to get the representation we want to see, we have to put in the work, starting with City Council. Soon, you’ll be making your move from friendly neighbor to respected City Councilor.
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