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Running for Office: Frequently Asked Questions

Q: What's the process to become a candidate? 

A: The period to qualify to be listed on the ballot this November is open now through August 10 (for most races, that's extended through August 15 if an incubent declines to run). During that time, voters seeking to be candidates must pick up nomination documents from the County Registrar of Voters (or from a city clerk for those running for municipal offices) and return those completed forms by the deadline. Candidates who plan to spend $2,000 or more on their race must also open a "commitee" and file financial reports with the California Secretary of State. The staff at the Registrar of Voters office are extremely knowledgable and helpful in guiding candidates through the process. You can call or visit them in person to learn more (contact info here). 

Q: What offices can I run for? 

A: You can click here to districts you live in and are eligible to run for. The San Diego County Democratic Party is currently looking for candidates for races where not enough Democrats have filed to run to compete for the available seats -- mostly in North and East County. To see a list of those races in North County, you can go to www.sddemocrats.org/north, or for East County go to www.sddemocrats.org/east.  

Q: What expenses should I expect? 

A: There is no filing fee to run for most local offices, but the Registrar of Voters will charge for an optional candidate statement of qualifications to be printed in the official sample ballot -- several hundred dollars for most districts. If your race is competitive, you may also need to raise funds for professional services (e.g., a treasurer), a website and printed materials to communicate with voters, and other campaign expenses. You can click here to research what similar campaigns have spent in previous elections. 

Q: Are these paid positions? 

A: No. Most municipal, school board, and other local offices are unpaid, part-time volunteer positions, with a four-year term. 

Q: How can I tell whether I'm qualified? 

A: For some "special district" offices like healthcare or water boards, it's highly desirable to have some relevant technical or professional expertise. But for the most part, what qualifies you are your connection and commitment to the community; a readiness for the management and fiscal oversight duties that come with being on a governing board; and the time and willingness to serve.

Q: These are nonpartisan offices. Why should I seek the endorsement of the Democratic Party? 

The Democratic Party works to elect leaders who share our values -- like standing up for working people, quality of life, social justice, environmental stewardship, investments in infrastructure, and accessible, high-quality education and healthcare. Both major parties endorse and support candidates in these races. Since party designation is not listed on the ballot, many voters look to us for voting recommendations. The County Democratic Party provides organizational and technical support for the candidates we endorse, from campaign training and data resources to "Voter Guide" doorhangers and mail distributed to Democratic households. 

A: What are the steps in the Party's endorsement process? 

Since we can only endorse registered Democrats, we send a letter with this information to every Democrat who obtains nomination papers to run. That will include a link with our candidate questionnaire and details on upcoming meetings when Party leaders will discuss and vote on endorsements.

Q: Okay, I'm interested! What are the next steps?

Please fill out the short form at www.sddemocrats.org/run to let us know you're considering becoming a candidate. A Democratic Party representative will contact you to answer questions and guide you through the process if you decide to run.