Getting On The Ballot: How To Be Heard In The Political Arena

There is no doubt that candidates for public office are afforded a bit more opportunity to be heard than the rest of us. Getting on the ballot as a candidate in a local or regional election draws the attention of the media and of the many groups and organizations that are involved in the social and political issues that confront us. In spite of this, we see few people exploring becoming a candidate as a method of raising awareness of alternative positions and ideas. This is unfortunate because becoming a candidate for public office is not as difficult as one may think.

In 2010, there are no less than 22 political offices in Fresno County that will be filled in the Primary election in June or the General election in November:

 

  • U.S. Representative for the 18th, 19th, 20th, and 21st districts

  • State Senator for the 14th and 16th districts

  • Member of the State Assembly for the 29th, 30th, and 31st districts

  • Fresno County Supervisor for the 1st and 4th districts

  • Fresno City Council Member for the 1st, 3rd, 5th, and 7th districts

  • Assessor-Recorder

  • Auditor-Controller/Treasurer Tax Collector

  • County Clerk

  • District Attorney

  • Public Administrator/Coroner

  • Sheriff

  • Superintendent of Schools

 

Some of these offices—such as Sheriff, District Attorney, Auditor-Controller/Treasurer Tax Collector, and

Assessor-Recorder—require that the candidate meets certain qualifications to be eligible but other offices do not. The other offices, mostly legislative, merely require that a person be registered to vote and be a resident of the district the candidate wishes to represent to be qualified.

 

Legislative positions can offer the greatest opportunity to effect real change in our community through the adoption of better laws. Fortunately, getting on the ballot as a candidate for these legislative offices is, in many cases, easy and inexpensive.

For example, becoming a candidate for Fresno City Council requires one to collect at least 20 and no more than 30 "nominating" signatures along with paying a $300.00 filing fee to get on the ballot. And if you don’t have $300.00 for the filing fee, this can be completely waived by obtaining 250 "in-lieu" signatures from friends and supporters who can vote and who reside in your particular city council district.

If one wishes to become a candidate for the Fresno County Board of Supervisors, getting on the ballot requires at least 20 and no more than 40 "nominating" signatures along with a $1,072.73 filing fee. Obtaining 4,291 "in-lieu" signatures, or a portion thereof, will either eliminate or reduce the filing fee for this office.

Getting on the ballot for one of the partisan offices in either the California legislature or the U.S. Congress can be a bit more difficult but not necessarily so. In some cases, it’s easier.

Becoming a candidate for the State Assembly or the State Senate requires 40-60 nominating signatures and a $952.91filing fee. If you are a Republican or Democrat, you would need 3,000 in-lieu signatures to completely waive the filing fee. If you with the Peace and Freedom Party or the Green Party, the number of signatures needed in-lieu of the filing fee is much, much less. In the 31st Assembly District, for example, a Green Party candidate only requires 58 in-lieu signatures to have the entire filing fee waived. A Peace and Freedom Party candidate only requires 46 in-lieu signatures for the filing fee waiver.

The lower number of voters registered with the smaller political parties—Peace and Freedom, Green, Libertarian, American Independent—is the reason for the difference in treatment regarding signatures in lieu of the filing fee and it also makes grass-roots, community-based activism through these parties more appealing and practical. For many considering being a candidate, doing so through one of the smaller political parties can be very advantageous.

The Bottom Line

Here are the basic steps to becoming a candidate for public office…

 

  • Determine if you’re qualified

  • Pay a filing fee (or collect signatures-in-lieu)

  • Declare candidacy

  • Be nominated

 

The only way to be properly represented is to run our own candidates. Winning elections is not always possible but we would never win if we didn’t have our own candidates. If you have a real desire for change and a few friends and supporters, then why not become a candidate for public office in 2010? We certainly can’t do any worse than what we have now.

Becoming a candidate and getting on the ballot is not difficult in many cases. Choose your battle in the political arena on your terms. As a candidate, you can decide on what the voters will hear.

For More Information

The information I’ve provided here is very basic and general in nature. For specific information, visit or contact the office of the County Clerk and speak with the outstanding and very helpful elections staff. The County Clerk’s office is located at 2221 Kern Street (between L and M Streets) in downtown Fresno. The phone number is (559) 488-3246 and the email address is clerk-elections@co.fresno.ca.us.

I recommend that you download and read the Candidate Guide published by the Fresno County Clerk.

If you would like to find out in which political district you reside, you can visit Fresno County’s District Locator.

 

For assistance with your campaign, Here are some local organization links:

Office (& Type) Filing Fee In-Lieu-Signatures Nominating Signatures
U.S. Representative 18th District (Partisan) $1,740.00 Republican Party: 3,000
Democratic Party: 3,000
American Independent Party: 23
Green Party: 4
Libertarian Party: 5
Peace and Freedom Party: 1
40-60 signatures of voters, in the jurisdiction, registered with the political party whose nomination the candidate is seeking
U.S. Representative 19th District (Partisan) $1,740.00 Republican Party: 3,000
Democratic Party: 3,000
American Independent Party: 150
Green Party: 68
Libertarian Party: 51
Peace and Freedom Party: 24
40-60 signatures of voters, in the jurisdiction, registered with the political party whose nomination the candidate is seeking
U.S. Representative 20th District (Partisan) $1,740.00 Republican Party: 3,000
Democratic Party: 3,000
American Independent Party: 150
Green Party: 33
Libertarian Party: 31
Peace and Freedom Party: 34
40-60 signatures of voters, in the jurisdiction, registered with the political party whose nomination the candidate is seeking
U.S. Representative 21st District (Partisan) $1,740.00 Republican Party: 3,000
Democratic Party: 3,000
American Independent Party: 150
Green Party: 53
Libertarian Party: 58
Peace and Freedom Party: 28
40-60 signatures of voters, in the jurisdiction, registered with the political party whose nomination the candidate is seeking
State Senate 14th District (Partisan) $952.91 Republican Party: 3,000
Democratic Party: 3,000
American Independent Party: 150
Green Party: 113
Libertarian Party: 98
Peace and Freedom Party: 43
40-60 signatures of voters, in the jurisdiction, registered with the political party whose nomination the candidate is seeking
State Senate 16th District (Partisan) $952.91 Republican Party: 3,000
Democratic Party: 3,000
American Independent Party: 150
Green Party: 42
Libertarian Party: 41
Peace and Freedom Party: 42
40-60 signatures of voters, in the jurisdiction, registered with the political party whose nomination the candidate is seeking
State Assembly 29th District (Partisan) $952.91 Republican Party: 3,000
Democratic Party: 3,000
American Independent Party: 150
Green Party: 92
Libertarian Party: 85
Peace and Freedom Party: 35
40-60 signatures of voters, in the jurisdiction, registered with the political party whose nomination the candidate is seeking
State Assembly 30th District (Partisan) $952.91 Republican Party: 3,000
Democratic Party: 3,000
American Independent Party: 42
Green Party: 4
Libertarian Party: 7
Peace and Freedom Party: 4
40-60 signatures of voters, in the jurisdiction, registered with the political party whose nomination the candidate is seeking
State Assembly 31st District (Partisan) $952.91 Republican Party: 3,000
Democratic Party: 3,000
American Independent Party: 150
Green Party: 58
Libertarian Party: 48
Peace and Freedom Party: 46
40-60 signatures of voters, in the jurisdiction, registered with the political party whose nomination the candidate is seeking
County Supervisor 1st District (Non-Partisan) $1,072.73 4,291 20-40
County Supervisor 4th District (Non-Partisan) $1,072.73 4,291 20-40
Fresno City Council District 1 (Non-Partisan) $300.00 250 20-30
Fresno City Council District 3 (Non-Partisan) $300.00 250 20-30
Fresno City Council District 5 (Non-Partisan) $300.00 250 20-30
Fresno City Council District 7 (Non-Partisan) $300.00 250 20-30

[Note: John Crockford is a member of the State and County Central Committees of the Peace and Freedom Party. He was a candidate for State Assembly in 2004 and 2006 and a candidate for Clovis City Council in 2005.]

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