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. The state has 67 counties, including the city/county entity of Philadelphia; 501 school districts; and hundreds of boroughs and townships. Each one has many elected officials with varying degrees of influence.
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 established order 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 fee, that person can become a successful candidate. Only members of the same political party as the candidate and who reside in the municipality may sign the petitions.
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. It can also be a stepping-stone to higher office.
2017 is a particularly good time to be seeking office for the first time.
Voters are restless and want change! They are willing to support someone new to government. Now is the time to evaluate if you may wish to become an elected “inside” advocate! Begin by contacting your county voter/elections administration office to determine what public offices will be on the ballot in your municipality. Then, stay tuned to this blog for more “how-to” information.
Important deadline: Nominating petitions to place your name on the ballot may be circulated now and must be filed by March 7th.
They are available at your county elections office.
Part one of a three part series by Senator Roy Afflerbach, Ret.