Guest blog by Senator Roy Afflerbach, Ret.
Odd-numbered years offer a unique opportunity to Pennsylvania animal advocates who wish to obtain an official platform from which to advocate. Odd numbered years mean municipal elections. Counties cities, boroughs, and townships will be holding elections for executives, mayors, commissioners, councils, supervisors, auditors, school directors, and other local offices.
Although there are usually contested races in the larger municipalities for offices such as County Commissioner or Mayor, many of the offices in smaller municipalities often go uncontested and sometimes without any candidates for the post! This is usually because the posts are part-time and offer no pay or a minimal stipend for attending meetings. There is no easier method by which to influence the establishment than by carefully identifying the offices for which there are no challengers and becoming a candidate yourself.
Nearly all municipal offices require no special qualifications. As long as an individual does not have a criminal record, is a resident of the municipality and can obtain one-hundred signatures, or less in most cases, upon a petition to place their name on the ballot and can pay a nominal filing, that person can become a successful candidate.
Becoming a municipal official offers two significant advantages for the dedicated advocate. First and foremost, it is an official public platform from which to advocate. Consider the opportunity of being a school director. This position attracts media attention. It also offers the opportunity to advocate for curriculum, lunch menus, community service projects, public-private partnerships, and other initiatives to promote the compassionate treatment of animals. A second advantage is that an elected official automatically receives greater attention from other elected officials at all levels. Elected officials respect the fact that other elected officials have been chosen by a constituency whose viewpoints they purportedly represent.
February 17th is the first day to circulate nominating petitions to place your name on the ballot. Now is the time to evaluate if you may wish to infiltrate to advocate! Begin by contacting your county voter/elections administration office to determine what offices will be on the ballot in your municipality. Then, stay tuned to this blog for more “how-to” information.
Part one of a three part series by Senator Roy Afflerbach, Ret.