Have a Disability? Here’s How to Run for Office

Photo by Eren Li from Pexels

Running for office is a serious undertaking. As a person with a disability, you may wonder if there is any special need to consider to make your journey toward an office a successful one. If you’re curious about how to run for office when you have a disability, here are some helpful tips.

Boost Your Credentials

Technically, you don’t need a particular degree, certification, or other credentials to run for office. However, that doesn’t mean they don’t matter.

Earning an advanced degree might help you run a more successful campaign. You’ll look like a stronger candidate if you pursue a degree that’s relevant to the office you want to land. Similarly, if you use a degree to separate yourself from the competition, you may get more support from voters.

Consider online degree programs if you’re looking for a flexible program that works with your schedule. Many of them allow you to learn at a pace that works for you, allowing you to balance your educational, personal, and professional life simultaneously.

On a related note, pay close attention to your personal branding, since that’s your opportunity to cultivate a consistent, powerful message, as well.

Cultivate an Exceptional Team

Even if you’re trying to land a local position, a campaign isn’t usually a one-person job. Instead, you’ll want a team of skilled professionals by your side, ensuring you get enough guidance and support to succeed. As you recruit team members, give clear and accurate explanations of what each role requires.

The composition of your team will depend on the office you’re trying to land. Here’s a list of some of the positions you may need to fill:

  • Campaign Manager
  • Finance Director
  • Field Director
  • Treasurer
  • Fundraising Coordinator
  • Volunteer Coordinator
  • Communications Manager
  • Speechwriter

Outline Your Platform

Overall, around 61 million Americans have a disability that impacts their ability to handle major life activities. Additionally, 3+ million children in the United States have a disability.

In many cases, people with disabilities are significantly underrepresented in government. Only around 10 percent of elected officials have some form of disability, causing many disabled people to feel that their needs may be overlooked.

As a person with a disability, running a disability-friendly campaign could help you connect with those individuals. Whether it’s an adult with a disability or parents of disabled children, addressing their concerns and being their voice could make a difference.

However, you’ll want to decide on other aspects of your platform outside of that. Explore issues that matter to your community and learn about the various perspectives people have on them. Compare that to your goals and values, and decide which points to feature in your campaign. That way, you can work to broaden your appeal.

Be Creative with Your Networking

Building your team and getting your message out there is a great start, but don’t overlook other potential opportunities to network, as well – like reconnecting with former classmates! After all, who knows how much influence they might have cultivated in your community since you last saw them? For instance, if your friends and former classmates are now small business owners, their endorsement could make a big difference! Having those additional connections and recommendations on social media could really help, too. 

Don’t Overlook Funding

Many people underestimate how expensive it is to run a campaign. While the total cost does vary based on numerous factors – including the office you want to land, your location, your current reputation, the amount of competition, and more – your odds of needing financial support are likely pretty high.

When it comes to widely known funding sources, PACs and Super PACs are usually the first that come to mind. However, those typically apply to federal elections, so they may not be accessible to everyone. Luckily, there are other ways to secure financial support for your campaign. Crowdfunding has become increasingly popular, particularly since it’s easy to market the effort on social media. Direct requests for donations through the mail or over the phone are also still widely used, allowing you to reach potential contributors who aren’t active on social media.

Regardless of the options you’re considering, make sure to review campaign finance laws before you start. That way, you’ll be familiar with the rules before you begin, helping you stay on the right side of the law.

Author: Andrea Needham
Andrea Needham is the creator and editor at Elders Day. A lifelong writer, she created her website to share information and resources with other seniors who love living it up as they age. Andrea believes our golden years don’t have to be a time to slow down, and she looks forward to sharing the many health-boosting, fulfilling activities and experiences that are perfect for aging adults.