How to Run for District Leader — Part 1: Starting Your Campaign
As a part of The New Reformers, our goal is to make running for office more accessible and transparent for our community. There’s no handbook that tells you how to do it, especially for those not familiar with the political process. That’s why we’re creating a series of blog posts on this topic. Today’s guide: how to run for Democratic District Leader.
First and foremost, we encourage everyone to evaluate three main criteria:
- Your Values
- Leadership skills
- Community involvement
Each of these criteria will help determine a basis for your campaign Your values are your guiding principles. Those will inform the issues near and dear to your heart. Try writing down a few issues that you would love to see resolved. That’s your campaign platform will come from. Once you have a strong on idea on your values, then think about your leadership skills.
Leadership skills are developed through a number of experiences. Maybe you’re the president of a local club. Maybe you’re a manager at work. Maybe you’re the one who keeps the family together. Maybe your friends always come to you for advice. You don’t have to be a natural born leader to rise to the occasion. It’s your empathy, emotional intelligence, intellect, and problem-solving skills that encompass the realm of quality leadership.
Community involvement is key when considering running for office. The people in your community will admire leaders who volunteer, people who take a stand on an issue, or folks that are incredibly friendly. A positive attitude can go a long way, especially when working with others. When the community sees the good things you’re doing and your passion for helping others, you’ll earn their respect and their trust. We highly encourage people in their communities to run for office.
Now the decision to run for office is no easy decision to make. There are millions of factors that may come into play, but that’s just your anxiety talking. We need to look past the dark clouds and be positive. Once you have a clearer idea of the first three criteria, then you’ll have what it takes to run for District Leader.
My decision to run for District Leader wasn’t easy. I was working full time in digital marketing. I’m not a lawyer or even have a graduate degree. I started to doubt myself and think that only the most “electable” people can run for office. Then one day in October 2019, Bernie Sanders came to Queens at a rally of 26,000+ people. Both Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and former Queens District Attorney candidate, Tiffany Cabán, made amazingly motivational speeches. I volunteered for both of their primary campaigns. After listening to their words of encouragement about getting involved and running for office, I stopped doubting myself. I realized that I DID do the work in my community. I AM a resource for people who want to learn about the political process. My values ARE closely aligned with their platforms. My doubts slowly vanished and my confidence started to swell. It was on that day I knew I wanted to run for District Leader.
Once I left the rally, I was ready to run for office but with no actual idea on how to run for office. It seems intimidating and confusing on trying to learn the political process. However, that didn’t stop me because I was determined to fight for my community and make this work. I asked around and gathered enough insight to put together my own “how to” list for this process. I’m sharing this everyone so one day you too can run for District Leader:
1. Choose a Campaign Committee Name. The single-candidate campaign committee name is solely for the purposes of fundraising. You’ll need it to open a bank account. Here a few examples of Committee Names:
- Friends of John Smith
- New Yorkers for John Smith
- John Smith for District Leader AD36 Part A
The New York State Board of Elections will determine if your single-candidate campaign committee name meets their criteria. The ones featured above do.
2. Choose a Treasurer. Your treasurer must be someone other than yourself. Consider choosing someone who is a close friend and someone you can trust. They should be meticulous with details, good with numbers, and willing to do the work. They will have multiple filing deadlines which include tons of data entry.
Make sure your treasurer is someone you can rely on and who also has a reliable address. Your treasurer’s address will be THE MAIN ADDRESS used for your filing. All important documents and checks will be sent there, so make sure they have a reliable mailbox and good postal service as well.
3. Choose a Bank. In order to fundraise for District Leader, you’ll need a bank account. Consider a bank with reasonable hours and a location that works for you and your treasurer. You’ll be both need to be present when opening the account, so make sure you two can coordinate.
Also, inquire if there’s a minimum amount required for your political campaign account. For our campaign’s bank, we need a minimum requirement of $1,500 in the account. Once we learned that, we started to fundraise the very next day!
4. Find a Notary. A notary is a small step to this process but it can’t go unnoticed. Two of the required forms (the C3 and C16) will need to be notarized. Your treasurer should be present for that as well. There is sometimes a small fee for notarizing documents. Our campaign had ours done at our local UPS store.
5. Fill out these Forms: C2, C3, and C16 & Make Copies
CF-02 (Type 1) — Authorized Single Candidate Committee Registration. This form lets you create a single-candidate campaign committee. Make sure to check off “local campaign” for Queens County.
CF-03 — Committee Authorization. This form lets you authorize who is a part of the single-candidate campaign committee. This form will have to be notarized.
CF-16 — Candidate Authorization for a Committee to Make All Campaign Financial Disclosures. This form allows the candidate to authorize who will be making the financial disclosures of the campaign committee. This also has to be notarized.
Once the forms have been filled out and notarized, please make photos copies for yourself and for your treasurer.
6. Mail Original Forms to NY State BOE. You must mail the original copies to the New York State Board of Elections. District Leaders are party positions and abide by the state rules. Although this is a hyper local position, don’t use the local Board of Elections here.
Address to use for NY State BOE:
NYS BOARD OF ELECTIONS
40 NORTH PEARL STREET, SUITE 5
ALBANY, NY 12207–2729
7. Call the NY State BOE. After you mail in the forms, wait 3–4 days. Then call the NY State BOE (518) 474–6220 to ask if your Campaign Committee name was registered. If it was, that means your campaign name from Step 1 was approved. Ask for the Filer ID Number over the phone. You will need that number to open a bank account. Depending on the bank, you will also need the paper copies of the letter from the NY State Board that have the Filer ID Number.
8. Get Your EIN. Once you have the name confirmed and your filing number, then you can get your Employer Identification Number (EIN) from the IRS. You can do it online. It takes about 15 minute to complete, and you’ll receive the EIN instantly after completion. You’ll need that for your bank account as well.
9. Look for NY State BOE Letter. Be on the lookout for your welcome letter that includes the NY State BOE filing number. You’ll need that for the bank.
10. Find a Fundraising/Donation Service. You’ll want to look for a service that’s user-friendly both for your campaign and for your potential donors. Also keep in mind that some services take out a small percentage from each donation (ie. ActBlue). You may also be charged for using a particular service, so you’ll want to research how the money is handled.
We highly recommend ActBlue because it’s very user friendly. They were able to get our campaign account up and running within 24 hours. All we needed was our campaign committee name, the position/office we’re running for, my name, my treasurer’s name, my treasurer’s address, and a brief description that bank you’re using and when you’re setting up you bank account.
You can start opening your ActBlue account here: https://secure.actblue.com/pending_entities/new
One thing to note with ActBlue that according to State law, they cannot wire funds from your ActBlue account to your campaign bank account. That’s because it’s a state party position that you’re running for. Money is received every week starting from that day you opened the ActBlue account. You’ll receive a check once a week of the amount that was raised over that seven-day time period. That check is mailed to your treasurer’s address.
11. Open a Bank Account with your Treasurer. Call your bank to confirm the paperwork and forms of identification you need to bring. Usually, it’s original copies of the C2, C3, and C16 forms (ask if copies are okay, or just make 2 sets of notarized forms), the printed EIN confirmation, a photo ID with your address on it (same address used as your voting address). Don’t forget to ask if there’s a minimum requirement to keep in the bank account!
Make sure you and your treasurer coordinate a good day and time for both of you to go. The process takes at least an hour. It’s a lot of paperwork to fill out. Make sure you plan ahead or even make an appointment if you can.
You may also need to add at least a dollar in your account the day you open it. That way, your account isn’t marked as inactive or insufficient. Ask the bank what their policy is. For our campaign’s bank, we deposited a dollar so that we weren’t charged having an inactive account.
12. After all of that, you can start fundraising!
Let me know if you have any questions about this process. You can reach me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Stay tuned for more info about running for District Leader!