She Should Run Member Newsletter
Volume 5, Issue 3, March 2012
Dear She Should Run Member:
Our central goal at She Should Run is to increase the number of women in public office by eliminating and overcoming the barriers to successful campaigns. We not only want to encourage you to think about running for office, but we also want to help you make the decision to go for it.
Over the past few months, we’ve been hearing a lot from our She Should Run members who have made the decision to run and have heard some amazing stories from women on the campaign trail. It’s so inspiring to hear how She Should Run’s resources and support have helped these women tackle the challenges of running for office.
How has She Should Run shaped your candidacy ambitions? We would love to hear from members about ways the She Should Run resources have helped you in your quest for public office! Email us with your story!
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Meet Commissioner Rachelle Nigro, She Should Run Member
“I would say to people [thinking about running for office], just try it! Especially at a local level, usually you have nothing to lose. I didn’t go into this thinking “Oh, I’ve got to win,” I went into this thinking that I’ve got to at least try, knowing it would be a great experience, and we’ll see what happens... I was the unknown person, completely unknown, and I beat the incumbent.”
– Rachelle Nigro, Advisory Neighborhood Commissioner, Washington, DC
Rachelle Nigro ran for her first public office in 2010 and won. She had no previous campaign experience and was new to the area. Her new neighborhood was in the midst of major changes with lots of development projects going on, inspiring her to become more involved in her community. When she submitted her name to the DC election committee, they were surprised because they had never heard of her before. But Commissioner Nigro’s story proves that no matter how new you are to your area or to political campaigns, anyone can run for office.
Being new to this process, she had to learn the ropes as she went along in her campaign. Since she was new to the area, becoming a familiar face became a priority. “I started to regularly show up at community meetings. I literally campaigned on the streets for the thirty days prior to the election. I knew that’s what I had to do to make myself visible. Because no one knew who I was, they were intrigued, so I knew I better make sure they knew my name so they could vote for me.”
“Fundraising was my biggest challenge; I’m not used to that. I didn’t mind talking to strangers but literally seeing if strangers wanted to give me money was a different story. That was kind of odd, because when I had done fundraising before it was for something like a charity, or a cause I believe in. But this was a whole new thing where you’re going up to strangers asking them to support you. But I had to do it, otherwise I’d be footing the whole bill. Surprisingly, people were receptive to me, they wanted to see a positive force in the neighborhood, and it worked out.”
After winning her election, there have been some challenges to being a public servant. “You’ve got to have a little bit of a thick skin, because no matter what level you’re in, you’re going to have your haters. They may not be fond of how you voted on an issue, and they’ll always have something negative to say. I try to focus on the positive, because you’ve got to be able to speak to people and explain to them their plan is not going to work out, or that certain issues can’t be addressed in a particular way.”
Overall, being an ANC Commissioner has been a fantastic experience for Commissioner Nigro. “Every experience I’ve had as a commissioner, I’ve learned from. I think it can be an excellent opportunity for people. I really feel like I’ve made a positive difference in my community. And it’s fun! Especially at the local level, you've got to have fun. You’ve got to enjoy it.”
To learn more about Commissioner Rachelle Nigro:
Like her on Facebook.
Follow her on Twitter.
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Consultant's Take: Nancy Bocskor, The Nancy Bocskor Company
“If there is one piece of advice I give to convince women to run for office, it’s always: Think bigger. You do have accomplishments. They may be different from men’s, but let’s figure out how you can leverage those so you can be successful. The biggest challenge is believing in yourself.”
– Nancy Bocskor, The Nancy Bocskor Company
Nancy Bocskor teaches how to communicate passionately and effectively to create change in communities. She is particularly focused on encouraging and empowering women to run for office and shares advice on how to successfully prepare for a campaign and overcoming the seemingly daunting challenges to running for office.
Fundraising: “Running for office is serious, but fundraising shouldn’t be the overwhelming barrier in deciding not to run. Women have amazing networks, but they have to learn how to use them for themselves, not just for the causes they advocate. They have to be their own cause… Women in particular have a hard time asking for things for themselves. They’re advocates for their children, for their family, but sometimes I just have to look women in the eye and tell them, ‘You’ve got to get over this.’ The worst someone can tell you is no…For women; it’s such a different path than it is for a lot of men. Women think what they do is not as important. So many women think “I haven’t done anything”, and that’s just not true. Everything they do means they had to ask people to join a cause, become an advocate, and they have to do that for themselves when they run for office.”
Networking: “Every person has a unique network. You know more people than you think…The first thing I do when I work with a candidate is look at their network. Let’s get out your Rolodex, your holiday card list, list the organizations you are a part of, tell me more about what you do. You have to sit down and analyze, who is it that you really know? Who are your church contacts, what are other contacts do you have? Facebook has opened up a vast array of potential donors. We’re so in touch with people we went to college with, to high school, these folks are really part of our lives. It used to be let’s just look at your holiday card list, now it’s who do you know on Facebook? Take advantage of these networks.”
Be Prepared: There are four core ways that you must prepare before running for office so you can start your campaign with confidence on day one.
- Prepare intellectually: Take the time to learn about what people in your community are talking about, what’s in the news, what the big issues are. As a candidate, people expect you to know what’s going on around you. Go to the meetings, become familiar with the nuts and bolts of the position you’re running for.
- Prepare financially: Be prepared to put your own money in the race, whether it’s filling up your gas tank or buying a raffle ticket. Take some time to budget how much seed money you can invest in your campaign.
- Prepare emotionally: Be sure to ask yourself the tough questions. How are you going to juggle the responsibilities of motherhood? Work obligations?
- Prepare physically: Do you have the energy to spend a full day going door to door, or to walk a parade route? Is it time to update your hair so it looks more professional, get new glasses? It’s important to put your best foot forward. This may sound shallow, but looking sharp and professional will give you have the confidence to run on the very first day of your campaign.
Get Your Voice At the Table: “It doesn’t make any difference whether you’re a conservative or a liberal woman, women always add a little bit different take to the conversation, and that’s critical…Women do care about different things than men. They make up over 50% of the population, and they need to have their voice at the table. If you don’t run, if you don’t contribute, if you don’t participate, your viewpoints are not going to be considered. We cannot be a bystander in this day and age.”
For more information on Nancy Bocskor and her work, please visit her website.
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Tip Sheet: Fundraising
To learn more about the nuts and bolts of fundraising and tips on how to be successful, check out Nancy Bocskor’s book “Go Fish: How to Catch (and Keep) Contributors" on her website.
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