Ours is a representative government. In a perfect world, one’s government reflects the composition and interests of the people it represents.
The Allegany County Board of Elections reports that as of March 2017 there are 25,300 registered voters here. Of these, 12,299 (49%) are men and 13,001 (51%) are women.
The data also show that 12,626 (50%) are registered Republican and 5,968 (24%) registered Democrat. Of those remaining, 7% are in Conservative or Independence parties and 19% are in Green, Working Families, Libertarian, Reform and Women’s Equality parties, or they are unaffiliated.
Think about your own community. Is there an approximate 50-50 split of men and women on the town or village board? The school board? At the county level, are the offices occupied in a way that represents the 50-50 split between registered Republicans and “all other parties combined”? Are half our county legislators women?
Women and non-Republicans are holding fewer offices than our demographic data would suggest. Is this a problem? Absolutely! Local government would be more ideal — more “representative” — if it most accurately reflected the population it serves.
And that’s where you come in!
There are multiple seats up for grabs in November in every town (and two villages) in the county. From Highway Superintendent to Tax Collector, to Justice, Town Clerk, Supervisor, Councilman, Trustee, and Assessor. None of these offices “require” previous experience, although having some related experience would make for a more electable candidate.
To be elected, though, you must do one thing: you must decide to run. You must decide to step up your game and contribute to your community at a new level.
First, you make a commitment to yourself. You speak with Mike McCormick or Barb Broughton at the Allegany County Board of Elections. You get signatures on a petition. You gather friends to knock on some doors. You talk with and listen to your neighbors. None of this seems so hard, does it? In the end, you have a seat at the table when good and important decisions are being made. And we make progressive gains in the governance of our towns, villages, and county. Now there’s a gratifying feeling. There’s a reward.
But there are additional reasons why it’s so important for Democrats and Independents to run for office RIGHT NOW, and both of these ideas were highlighted by a former candidate for NY State Senate and local candidate advocate Leslie Danks Burke.
First: When a candidate for, say, NY Senate or Congress wants to meet voters and listen to community concerns, it’s extremely helpful if there is a friendly face – another elected Democratic official — to accompany her and make introductions. Democratic candidates for regional office struggle with this in Allegany County, as there is a relatively small number of Democrats holding office here currently.
Second: Using a baseball analogy, think of village trustees and school board members as a farm team for the Democratic party. Local elective office is a perfect training ground for building a resume. You’ve won an election and gained board experience. Concurrently, other elected officials have had the chance to observe and work with you, and learn what your strengths are. All these things give your candidacy for higher office more credibility.
The time to make a decision to run is right now. To have your name on the ballot in November, signed petitions supporting your candidacy must be turned in by July 13th. If you have questions, make a call. Call Mike or Barb at the Board of Elections. Call the Allegany County Democratic Committee. Call someone you know — in Allegany County or elsewhere — who is holding office right now. Call Leslie Danks Burk or her Trailblazers PAC, which offers training and financial support to local candidates. Call your pastor. Call your best friend. Heck… call Ghostbusters! Our party needs you. It needs you to step out of your comfort zone and into the candidate zone. We will offer you all the support you require.
This November there are 166 seats up for grabs. Picture yourself in one of them, and let’s make it happen.
>>>> Over the past several months, Trailblazers PAC has been hard at work training New Yorkers and Pennsylvanians on how to run a grassroots campaign for local office. If you’ve not yet attended a training and are interested in doing so, please note the details below. RSVP at trailblazersPAC@gmail.com
Candidate and Supporter Boot Camp
307 Main Street, Blossburg, PA 16912
Saturday, June 10 10am-2pm