My first week as a candidate

Last Friday morning, I sat anxiously at my laptop as I orchestrated the trio of tasks that would launch my campaign for New Bedford School Committee in a matter of minutes: 1) hit ‘publish’ on my new website, 2) make my new Facebook page public, and 3) hit ‘send’ on the email I had drafted to friends and family making it official. After spending a frantic minute testing the links to make sure they worked–they did!–I returned to my inbox, expecting bounce-backs and out-of-office messages. Those were there, but amazingly, just minutes after making my announcement, so were replies of congratulations. And within a few more minutes, offers of support began showing up, including from elected officials in the city whose advice will be so beneficial. The Facebook page came to life as friends and family shared it far and wide. By the time I returned to my paid work at noon (I took the morning off for this), I had even recorded my first online donation. Talk about getting some wind in my sails!

Throwing my hat in the ring on the early side has been great not only for building a community of supporters, but also for helping me realize what I need when it comes to nuts and bolts. The next day, I took Nick to PRIDE Fest at Buttonwood Park, and as we circulated with friends, I realized I was ill-prepared to “campaign.” I finally understood where buttons can come in handy, since one would give me a conversation-opener. And those who I did start conversations with might have put a postcard on their fridge if I had some to hand out.

So this week (and weekend) are focused on “marketing collateral” (brochures, door-hangers, and other materials I can hand out). I’ve been playing with designs and layouts on Vistaprint as a ride the bus into Boston for work, and hope to have something handout-able within the next week or so. And last night, I made the rite-of-passage visit to Carol and Glenn Grimes, the famous button-makers of New Bedford. This came after a long work day, and even though all I wanted to do was go home and think nothing about campaigning, it was one of the most energizing activities of my week. After making buttons for political candidates in New Bedford and beyond for decades, they’ve got some great insights on running for office here that they were happy to share. For instance, spaghetti supper fundraisers used to be all the rage in New Bedford, but they’ve fallen out of fashion. Wonder if we should try one out as a nod to the old school?

This is my first of what I hope will be many update posts, since one of my goals is to share my process and lessons over the course of the campaign for those who are thinking about running themselves or are just curious about what it takes (as well as for future me, so I can look back wistfully at this crazy time).

A collection of area School Committee campaign buttons made by Glenn and Carol Grimes.

This week’s stats:

Time spent: ~7 hours (announcement prep/dissemination, follow-up correspondence, three one-on-one meetings, fixing bugs with donation platform, researching/designing collateral, visiting the button shop)

Amount spent: $35.88 (for website domain/hosting

Amount raised: $505.00 (totally unsolicited!)

Events attended: 2 (PRIDE Fest and early literacy kickoff at Gomes School)

New people I’ve met: 3

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