Ken Larsen's web site - Campaign advice


Here's my advice for people who plan to run for a seat on the Chapel Hill Town Council or Orange County County Commission:


1 Be on the ballot. Eugene Farrar ran for Mayor, but wasn't on the ballot.  He ran as a write-in candidate.  That doomed him from the start.  He only got 420 votes. 
2 Have a good website. Identify what distinguishes you from the other candidates.  Post a video of yourself on your website. 
3 Have your campaign sign link to your website. I recommend a QR code [examples].  None of the candidates had that.  Hongbin Gu at least had her website listed on her signs.
4 You need at least 500 campaign signs Hongbin Gu garnered the most votes for Town Council.  She had 650 signs.  Rachel Schaevitz and Allen Buansi each had about 500.

Ed Harrison (who lost his re-election bid) only had 70 signs.  I believe Carl and Eugene had fewer than that.

Ideally, signs shouldn't influence voters, because they don't tell you anything about the candidate, but sadly there's a strong correlation between the quantity of signs and the quantity of votes received. The average citizen is too busy with family and work to properly understand the issues.  As a consequence, if they vote at all, many will base their vote on the most frivolous information.  I met one lady who voted for Rachel Schaevitz simply because her name was also Rachel. 

"The best argument against democracy is a five-minute conversation with the average voter."  -Winston Churchill (1874-1965)

5 On election day, have your volunteers be at the polling places. Hongbin Gu had a massive number of volunteers in 2017.

UNC student Tai Huynh and his campaign manager Hannah Snow (a UNC senior) arranged to have poll greeters at every precinct on election day in 2019.  Tai won a seat on the Town Council!
6 Serve on a board prior to running It helps enormously if you serve on a board prior to running.  Voters will then have some history about you as a public servant.
7 You should occasionally speak at Town Council and/or Orange County Commissioner meetings. These meetings are video recorded and posted on the Town or county's website.  If you have the technical skills, you can excerpt out your speech and put it on your website (if you have one).  These can help you assess your skills as a communicator.
8 Cultivate good communications skills. [tips]
9 Prepare for forums and meetings with constituents. Learn what the key issues are and have a 60 second answer for every one.

Most Town issues are exceedingly complicated and cannot be answered in 60 seconds ... or even 60 minutes.  I would repond by saying "Kepner-Tregoe".  [details]

Learn about your opponents.  What are their stances on all the issues, and derive counter-arguments.
10  I'm available (for free) to confer with any aspiring local politicians.

You also can visit my website to read my musings on a variety of local issues.  You may not agree with my opinions, but you'll get a clearer idea of what the issues are.
Prior to the 2017 election, I met with Hongbin Gu for almost 3 hours ... going over the Chapel Hill issues information on my website.  I told her that I didn't expect her to agree all of my opinions, but understanding my viewpoint would surely help her in her campaign.  Hongbin ended up getting the most votes in the Town Council race.

No other candidate reached out to me like Hongbin did.




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