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Running for office: A crash course

Potential candidates elect to go to Franklin County workshop

Potential candidates elect to go to Franklin County workshop

February 08, 2007|by KATE S. ALEXANDER

CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. - "When filing for candidacy, the key is don't wait until the last minute," Franklin County Deputy Chief Clerk Jean Byers said. "If even one box is not checked or one name is incomplete, we can't process your paperwork."

For many of the people gathered at the Franklin County workshop "How to Run for Local Office" on Wednesday, Byers' caution would be the best advice of the evening.

"Some of this is overwhelming," said Larry Funk of Peters Township, who plans to run for Franklin County controller. "Learning how to get the paperwork together on time makes the process easier."

Penn State Cooperative Extension and Franklin County hosted the workshop to guide novice candidates through the process of getting their name on the ballot.

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Extension educator Judy Chambers began the workshop with a brief civics lesson on local politics in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.

"There are 15 townships, seven boroughs and six school districts in Franklin County," Chambers said. "I imagine some of those offices no one runs for."

Byers estimated that in each election, about 10 percent to 15 percent of all local offices either never have a candidate or only one candidate runs for the position.

"I'd be glad if we get a handful of people to decide to run after coming to the workshop," Chambers said.

Chambers said the workshops had been done through her office in the past, but this was the first for Franklin County.

After introducing local politics, Chambers asked the audience, "Are you ready to throw your hat into the ring?"

To aid those ready to enter local politics, Byers walked the group through candidacy paperwork and Washington Township Supervisor Carroll Sturm, Mercersburg Borough Councilwoman Liz McClintick and Montgomery Township Supervisor Mike Rife told "tales from the trenches."

"The first few doors I knocked on were difficult," Sturm said. "I didn't know what was on the other side."

While the workshop instructed potential candidates on every aspect of the pre-campaign and campaign process, even those there to learn had advice to offer.

"You could talk to 20 people and get 20 opinions on how to campaign," said Dane Anthony of St. Thomas Township, who plans to run for county sheriff. "I say find the one that fits you best, go with it and hope it works."

At the public's request, Chambers said she will lead four workshops this month in Franklin, Adams, Cumberland and York counties.

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