“When I heard there was an opening on our County Board, I immediately called a friend I knew living in that district and asked her to run. I quickly realized that simple ‘ask’ goes a long way: She did and won! Turns out, her father had served on county board for years when she was growing up. She was well-familiar with the process and had actually been thinking about it, but my call prompted her decision. Now we have a fantastic, progressive female voice on a County Board that was definitely lacking in that perspective.” Lisa Kivirist – Inn Serendipity Bed and Breakfast, Wisconsin, Plate to Politics
Tips for Inviting A Nation of Women To Run!
- Actually ask her. You know, walk up to her and deliberately say, “I think you’re a great leader and a brilliant advocate for change. Would you be willing to run for elected office?”
- Make it personal to her. Show her how her passions could bring about change for everyone.
- Ask her to run for a specific office. Could she improve farming policy as a county commissioner? Does the state senate need her passion for food safety?
- Make a list. Think about why she is the best person for that elected office and make a list. Share that list with her.
- Ask other women she knows and admires to also ask her to run. They may have different reasons why she should run and may highlight additional traits she can bring to policymaking decisions.
- Ask an elected official – or two – or three – to invite her to run, too. It always helps to hear that someone currently in office thinks she has what it takes to serve in public office.
- Bring her to a session of that elected body. Ask her to join you at the council meeting or to sit in as the legislature debates a bill she cares about.
- Form a “Kitchen Cabinet” to support her. Gather a group of women who will help manage her campaign. Show her that she has real commitments of time and money already in her network.
- Let her say ”no” and LISTEN to the reason why. Women have a lot of questions and concerns about running for and serving in elected office. From time commitments to family needs to skeletons in her closet (whether real skeletons or not) – there are a number of reasons women think they’re not ready to run. Listen to her questions and concerns. Find answers for her. Introduce her to other elected women who can share their experiences.
A few DON’Ts when recruiting women to run:
- Don’t tell her she “has” to run. This is a very personal and sensitive decision. And it has to be her own decision.
- Don’t minimize her concerns. She has reasons she may be reluctant. Those are real and may be private. Do be a resource for her. Help address those concerns.
- Don’t confront or trick her in a public way. Do use discretion and respect her privacy.
Finally, before you make another move to ask a woman to run, ask yourself: “Am I sure that I don’t want to run for this seat?” If not, why? You need to answer this question seriously and be very clear about why not you. The woman you are asking will very likely ask you this question – and you need to be prepared to answer her. Even better if you respond “because I’m going to run for [insert other office]!”