Get Ready

Deciding Where and When to Run

This questionnaire is a tool to help you think through all aspects of your run. Don’t worry if you can’t fill this out in one sitting. You don’t need to know every answer right now. This is an evolving document and is intended to be filled out over time.

  • What you would like your greatest accomplishment to be? Picture yourself receiving an award for your time in office. What achievement will be mentioned first?
  • What office would ultimately be the best to help you accomplish this goal?

Once you’ve figured that out, start thinking about some possible paths to get there.

  • Where do opportunities exist to run and win?
  • Who are the incumbents in my area in seats I might be interested in?
  • How long have the incumbents been there?  Do they plan to retire, or run for another office? Do they have term limits?
  • If there is an incumbent, is there anything that makes that person vulnerable?
  • Who else is likely to run? Who has recently challenged the incumbent?
  • Will this seat help position you for your next run for office?

Preparing to Run – Looking inward and forward

  • Who do you need to talk with to get ready to run?
  • What changes will you need to make in your professional and personal life to accommodate the time commitment of running? (For example: letting go of some commitments, arranging child/elder care, getting help with some regular tasks, etc.)
  • Is your employer supportive of you running for office?
  • Can you take a leave of absence during the campaign? When will it start? How will you cover your salary/benefits during that time?
  • Are there any legal restrictions that would prevent you from raising money for your campaign while working in your current job?
  • Who can help you meet your personal obligations while you are running?
  • What are some ways that you will relieve stress on a regular basis?
  • How will you stay connected with family and loved ones during the campaign? (Tip: Include all important dates—anniversarys, birthdays, etc. on a calendar.)

When I Win

  • What changes will you need to make in your professional and personal life to accommodate the time commitment of serving in public office?  (For example: arranging flexible work hours, arranging childcare, accommodating travel, getting paid or volunteer help for constituent relations or policy research, etc.)
  • Is the position you are running for a paid position? What is the salary?  What is the time commitment (hours/week)?
  • Once elected, will your employer be supportive and accommodate you serving in office?
  • Are there any legal restrictions that would prevent you from serving in public office while employed at your current job?
  • Will there be expenses associated with serving in office? How will you meet them?
  • Does this office provide visibility?
  • Have you spoken with your family about how to address the media?
  • Are there things you can accomplish and take credit for?
  • Will it allow you to build more allies than enemies?
  • Will you have to take tough votes that could be used against you?  If so, can you defend them?
  • Will serving in this office help you build relationships? If so, which ones?
  • Is there anything else that worries you about running for office and/or winning?  How can you resolve these worries?

Download the Worksheet