The ins and outs of running a municipal campaign were discussed during a special meeting at the Chamber of Commerce offices Thursday. Candidates for any of the open elected positions in the city were invited to an informational session to listen to tips and advice from local experts.
Sue Tugana, a representative for the Governmental Affairs committee, spoke about what is expected of elected officials in Clinton.
“Being a member of the city council does not give you the right to ride on a snow plow or the right to go to a school and make recommendations,” Tugana said.
Rather, elected officials help formulate policy, and try to best represent the needs of constituents. If vanity is a candidates motivation, Tugana said that he or she could be in for a shock.
“Not to be, I’m going to say this very well, not to be on an ego trip,” Tugana said. “You’re elected to do a job, not be the job.”
Tugana also warned of a recent change to Iowa municipal election law. In prior years, the petitions needed to file for candidacy had to be distributed through city hall.
Now, forms can be printed from the Secretary of State’s website. What looks like an uncontested election may no longer be what it seems.
“Prepare yourself as if you’re running against 20 people,” Tugana said. “At the end of the day, you may be.”
Connor Anderson, a local business owner, gave a brief presentation on campaign strategy. Anderson is no stranger to the election process, having worked on several high profile campaigns and having once made a living as a professional political advocate.
He stressed the importance of running a proactive campaign, because even though average municipal election turnout hovers less than 10 percent, name recognition is essential.
“Once they’ve looked you in the eye and shook your hand, they’re much more likely to vote for you,” Anderson said.
Plus, Anderson believes the elections could be more populated this year than in the past.
“If I were a betting man, I’d say we have a pretty high turnout this year,” he said. “People are pretty ticked off.”
Using the demographics of residents and a mathematical formula, Anderson has also produced what he believes to be target vote totals for each ward. For ward one, a candidate can likely win an election with 200 votes. Ward two would take about 600 votes, while the third and fourth wards need about 800 votes to be won. For at-large council spots, 1,600 votes are likely needed, as the position is city wide.
Mayoral candidates will likely need around 1,600 votes, possibly 10 to 15 percent more as it is a higher position.
The election season is just beginning to heat up. Tugana said five school board candidates will vie for three open spots. Three open spots on the city council are being fought over by four candidates and she expects three mayoral candidates, assuming Mayor Rodger Holm pursues re-election.
However, aside from the case of the school board candidates, these numbers are tentative as filing does not begin until Aug. 29 and extends until Sept. 22.
School board elections will be held Sept. 13, and the city elections will be held Oct. 11. Prior to each election, a televised forum will be held at city hall.