Emily Martz ’94 on Running for Office
We saw in the fall 2017 elections a wave of new leaders emerging, many of them strong, intelligent women. Many who had never run for office before. They decided to run to make a difference, to get things done in a new way.
It was with that same conviction to my community and my country that I decided to declare myself a candidate for United States Congress. And since I launched my campaign in July I have learned a lot about what it takes to run for office.
There are many resources for women, whether you are running for school committee or city council, or for a role on the state or federal level. I found Emerge America and EMILY’S List to be invaluable resources. Republican female candidates can look to Maggie’s List and VIEW PAC (Value in Electing Women) for similar support.
I’ve also learned very quickly along the way. I offer here five pieces of advice that I have been given, and that I call upon every day and plan to revisit daily between now and Election Day 2018.
Why do you want to run? Be sure you are very clear about why you are doing this, and why you are qualified. And be able to articulate both at anytime, anywhere.
For me, it’s to help fix the growing gap of economic opportunity, particularly in rural areas like mine. I have the necessary economic development expertise, gained during a career of more than twenty years, that enables me to build partnerships with people regardless of background or political party. We need this sort of independent thinking and economic development expertise to set the country on a better path.
Develop an ego:
Learn how to eloquently brag about yourself and your qualifications. Learn how to say that you are the best candidate and that you will be the best leader, and be comfortable convincing others of this.
I am now comfortable telling people that I am the only candidate, including the incumbent, who has both a long and proven track record in various aspects of economic development and in stepping into leadership roles when I am most needed. We need this kind of dedication to public service in Washington.
People want to be a part of your campaign, and they want to be useful. Some can give money, and others can give time. Start lining up volunteers well before you need them. Get contact information from every person you meet. Be ready to delegate tasks. They will be ready when it’s time to make phone calls, make signs, send postcards, come to an event, or march in a parade on your behalf.
For my campaign, we have created captains in different parts of the district so that the captains can also help recruit volunteers.
Running for office requires many hours away from home and requires you to give your time and attention to many people beyond your loved ones. Do your best to make sure that your family and personal support network is heading into the experience with eyes—and lines of communication—wide open.
Beware the naysayers:
There will likely be people who question your decision to run or who offer un-solicited advice about what you should be doing instead. Remind yourself of why you are committed to your campaign and of the many people who believe that you are the best candidate. Return to “Know why,” and continue your good work.
Emily Martz ’94 is running for US Congress in New York’s 21st District. A resident of Saranac Lake, she previously worked in the financial services industry, as a college professor, and, most recently, as director of operations and finance for a local nonprofit. Learn more.
This article appeared as “Running for Office” in the winter 2018 issue of the Alumnae Quarterly.
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January 11, 2018