Jacksonville, FL (March 18, 2016) It takes a special sort of person to run for elected office. It takes drive and determination combined with a willingness to compromise for the betterment of the community as a whole. At the March 2016 meeting of the First Coast Tiger Bay Club,
District 11 Council Member Danny Becton spoke about the gratification and the pitfalls of placing your name on the ballot. In his speech, Becton spoke about three major topics – The Campaign, The Media, and Serving Once Elected.
His advice when it came to campaigning, was not to over promise, be prepared for early supporters to become scarce when the real work of campaigning begins and to expect negativity from opponents.
Becton found the media to be looking for dirt rather than accomplishments. He said to expect small past mistakes to be magnified. His positive advice was to never try to fake an answer. If the candidate doesn’t know the answer, say so, tell the reporter that you’ll look into it and get back to the reporter with an answer. Even if it is past the deadline, the reporter will appreciate that the candidate kept his word.
Once you’ve won the election, congratulations. With the win you have now taken on an advertised part-time job that in fact easily demands 40 hours a week. Be prepared to give up hobbies, personal time and even some important family time. Becton is self-employed and found early on that the temptation of reading a single city-related email can turn into many hours lost to your business. Neighborhood emergencies take precedence over family plans. Be sure to know the Sunshine law inside and out to avoid any conflicts.
He closed saying that he has no regrets running for office and appreciates the opportunity to serve the people of District 11 and the City of Jacksonville. The payment he receives from this job comes not from a check, but from the satisfaction he gets from making positive changes for his community.
Council Member Becton’s Outine is as follows:
Do You Have to be Crazy to Run for Public Office?
Despite what we are witnessing in the presidential campaign,
I do not believe you have to be psychiatrically crazy to run for office
but it is very understandable how it can be perceived that one is “nuts” for doing it:
- People will encourage you to throw your hat into the ring and when you do, those same people will abandon you when it’s required for their help in both time and money.
- Voters want you to have “all” the answers and know “all” the issues.
- Voters want you to make promises and also want you to promise to get things done. Might mention avoiding the temptation to over-promise items that are not in the purview of the office. Bottom-line, people want stuff and they want you to deliver that stuff upon being elected.
- Groups same expectations of wants and promises.
- Opponents will not necessarily know you but will immediately paint you negatively to promote themselves.
- Negative Campaigning, it works, therefore expect it.
- The spotlight on you is almost never design to promote you, it’s only there to sensationalize the story at your expense.
- Possibility of skeletons, “your Past” falling out of the closet. Small issues that can grow into large ones.
- Media expects you to have “all” the answers and know “all” the issues with an emphasis on your ability to communicate it to the masses. Don’t be afraid to admit you don’t have the answer but will be happy to look into it. BSing a reporter leads to trouble.
Media interviews & questions are designed to make you think, “.a.k.a. trip you up”.
- Promises made during campaign, you now have to deliver along with many other office holders who have done the very same thing – make promises.
- It’s a full time commitment, part-time job is a fantasy. Personal time, hobbies and family, will take a back seat. Total strangers will stop you and have no problem telling you about an issue.
- Private sector careers will be affected…. No one can give 100% into their “day job”.
- i. Give an example that you told me in your office about reading one email and finding yourself being sucked into spending 2 hours of your real job time.
- ii. A neighborhood emergency turns your calendar upside down. Use this week’s Bartram Springs fiasco as a prime example.
- Constituents will expect results as though you are a “one-man band”. Absent of those results, you will likely be lumped into the ridicule of the whole.
- i. But I can assure you that now that I recently am retired I will devote a great deal of time to seeing that both you and the mayor are not reelected should a new fire department get approved in this next budget. On that you can be sure.
- ii. Thank you for your quick and detailed response. I will be watching this very closely as politicians are often great with words.
- There’s no way it can be about the money.
- i. You might want to tell them about the Sunshine Law and all the tickets you were buying this past fall.
- While on the subject of the Sunshine Law….
- i. Explain why a panel of new council members could not be here today to address the group.
“Not everything in Life is about money…… 1) Doing what you like, love or what you might otherwise do for free is important too, 2) Accomplishments, creating goals and achievements big and small, benefiting others and giving back is gratifying and lastly, 3) Leadership – for those that have tenacity and a take charge attitude, the need is great out there.
Yes, most people will think you are “Nuts” for putting yourself out there and thru the sausage mill of politics but for those who can weather the highs and lows and learn the rules of the game, service can fulfill personal rewards without making you go “insane”.”
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