If I’m going to vote (and I always, always do), I want to know there are really qualified candidates running.

By: Lynda Shafer
Director – Leadership Development

My parents instilled lots of wisdom into me when I was young. The power of voting was high on the list. It wasn’t until I got much older that I equated the power of voting with the need for great candidates to vote for.

“Service to others is the rent you pay for your room on earth.” Mohammed Ali coined that phrase – and while we neither float like a butterfly nor sting like a bee, it’s something we’ve always taken to heart here at the Chamber; a key reason we launched our Candidate Academy last summer.

We believe one of the highest forms of community trusteeship – holding the community in trust while seeking the common good – is serving in public office.

That can be on a school board, as a state senator, city council member or a myriad of other elected offices. We also know that considering a run can be daunting: Where do I start? How do I recruit volunteers? I have to raise money? Which printer is best for yard signs? 

Recognizing the complexity of the task, we started Candidate Academy, tapping skilled campaign consultants Chris Peterson and Victoria Kohout to give interested leaders an expert understanding of how to start that journey to elected office. To date, we’ve had 40 people participate in the two sessions. Some are currently serving in office. Some have filed to run in the upcoming elections. Some are contemplating a run in 5-to-10 years.

Encouraging leaders to commit to public office is both a short-term and a long-term strategy, one we’ll continue to work toward as we all strive to make that mighty rent payment.


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