Running for Office With a Disability:
Tips for a Successful Campaign

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Are you considering a run for office? Congratulations! Whether you’re interested in launching a lifelong political career or looking to enact change on a social issue that’s close to your heart, running for public office is a great way to get involved in your community. And if you have a disability, pursuing a public position can help you give voice to many others who are often misrepresented in politics.

If you’re of a mind to run for office, Don Vruwink shares some tips to help you navigate these challenges and execute a successful campaign! 

Assemble Your Campaign Team

First things first, you need a campaign team. You will need to assemble a variety of professionals and volunteers to help you accomplish the many tasks and responsibilities ahead of you. One of the most important players on your team is your campaign manager. This is the person who will implement and oversee your entire campaign. Look for someone who you feel comfortable around — you will be working many long hours together! 

Some other great people to have on your side include a fundraising consultant, finance director, media consultant, content writer, and a personal assistant to manage your busy calendar. Beyond these professionals, assemble as many volunteers as you can to help with canvassing. Local community organizations and activism groups can be a great source of passionate volunteers who share your values.

Establish Your Online Strategy

Running a political campaign in the 21st century is all about creating a strong online presence. Getting your message out online will help you reach the most voters, especially those in younger demographics. Fortunately, building an online campaign strategy is much more affordable than running traditional campaign ads. 

To get started, build a website for your campaign and make sure it’s fully accessible to everyone. Create social media accounts and use these platforms to encourage email sign-ups, post about upcoming events, and ask for feedback from your followers. Social media is an incredibly valuable tool for interacting with voters. 

Of course, while social media is great, it can be an Achilles heel if you have content on your personal pages that could be considered offensive or in poor taste. Be sure to thoroughly clean up your social media sites to avoid any negative publicity. Of course, in that vein, it’s worthwhile to also take a close look at anything else that might be a red flag for voters. For example, if you have had debt issues in the past, do a quick check of your credit report from all three agencies to ward off any unwanted negative attention. 

Plan Around Your Disability

According to Forbes, lack of accessibility on the campaign trail is a common obstacle facing candidates with disabilities. That means as you navigate your political campaign, you’re bound to come across a few barriers. Plan ahead so you can overcome accessibility issues without disrupting your campaign plans. For example, you may need to outsource door-to-door canvassing to volunteers instead of doing this yourself. Make sure there are adequate accessibility features at events where you are scheduled to speak, whether this means wheelchair ramps or sign language interpreters. As a bonus, this planning will ensure your campaign is accessible to others with disabilities! 

Take Advantage of Available Resources

While campaigning can be tough, you have access to a variety of resources that will make things easier. Slate lists a number of books, training programs, and campaign services that you can leverage along the way. These resources can help you learn what it takes to run a political campaign and streamline every part of the process, from fundraising to event management. Take advantage of these tools as you get your campaign underway! 

Running for public office is a great way to help your community or advocate for a cause. You can have a very real impact on the people around you by getting involved in local politics, regardless of your disability. At the very least, your run for office will serve as a memorable experience and an excellent learning opportunity. Don’t let your disability hold you back from this exciting adventure! 

Don Vruwink is a lifelong Wisconsin resident, former history teacher, and proud Democrat. He’d love to hear from you!

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