Right after the 2009 Longmont elections, I wrote a post about the then upcoming 2011 local elections. Well, we are less than one year away from the 2013 Longmont City Council elections.
As usual, there will be four positions up for reelection, including:
Mayor Dennis Coombs
At-Large/Mayor Pro-Tem Gabe Santos
At-Large Councilmember Alex Sammoury
Ward 2 Councilmember Katie Witt
I’ve heard various rumors of who’s running for what, or not running. Below is an edited and updated version of the 2009 version of this blog entry.
How to get started
At the very least you should become acquainted with how the City Council operates, and the issues of the day. The best way to do this is attend as many council meetings (Tuesdays, 7pm) as possible. You can also watch it on TV (Ch. 8), watch it online, but being there, and being seen and heard, has more impact. Write in to the Times-Call on city related subjects. Speak at Public Invited To Be Heard. Attend various advisory board, committee, and commission meetings. Basically, do your homework and get noticed.
Time and Money
Getting on city council can be an expensive and time consuming undertaking, do you have the time and energy to follow through with it? For reference, current Ward 2 council member Katie Witt announced in March for a November election (8 months) and raised almost $18,000. This was just for an area that was a third of the city. At-large and Mayoral candidates have to cover the entire city. Basically, in the ’09 and ’11 elections, the people who raised the most money won. The ones who raised little to no money lost. It’s difficult to knock on every door, especially in an at-large race, in a few months time, so mailers and phone calls become more important and they aren’t cheap or free.
Figure out which ward you live in and which race you will enter. As stated earlier, Ward 2 (Katie Witt) will be up for re-election in 2013. The other three races, including Mayor, are “at-large”, meaning all registered voters will be able to vote in these races, and candidates for these races can live anywhere in the incorporated areas of Longmont.
Make a plan
Once you decide you want to run for city council and for which seat, start a soft campaign. This means getting your name and face out there, but not necessarily in the context of a future candidate. People get turned off by long campaigns and announcements that are too soon, but you as a future candidate may need all of that time, and raising contributions to be in the game come Fall. A few yard signs and appearances at a forum or two just won’t cut it anymore. People have to know your name and what you stand for, don’t be shy about it.
This is not the first time I’ve made a call for citizens to consider serving on council. When citizens are apathetic to what’s going on in their community, we end with historical anomalies like the detestable “Bloc of 4″ that we had from ’07-’09. They represented influences foreign, and detrimental, to Longmont and were due to voters just not paying attention.
Serious candidates and future effective representatives need to be prepared to be put in such an important position – and not the proverbial gee-whiz deer in the headlight kind of novices that have plagued us in the past and need to be replaced in the next election.