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    Fort Chamber Explains Running For Public Office

    Fort Chamber Explains Running for Public Office Process
     
              April may seem like a long way off, but anyone who has considered running for public office should begin preparations now. There are many opportunities to learn about the issues affecting the city and school district, and a variety of ways to serve. The Fort Atkinson Chamber of Commerce, in partnership with the City of Fort Atkinson, and the Fort Atkinson School District, has compiled a set of resources for potential candidates to help them navigate the path to elected office.

              Candidates do not have to have any previous political experience, but it is helpful to understand the political process. For both city council and school board, candidates must complete a Declaration of Candidacy and a Campaign Registration Statement. These forms can be obtained at the municipal building or the school district offices.

              In addition, candidates must be 18 years of age and citizens of the United States, reside within the city limits (for city council) or within the school district, and not convicted of a felony in any court in the United States, unless pardoned.

              The responsibilities of elected officials vary, but regular attendance at meetings is expected, and familiarity with Robert’s Rules of Order is beneficial. Council and board members are the community’s legislative and policymaking bodies.  They are responsible for approving the annual budget and monitoring strategic objectives. They appoint and review the city manager or superintendent, who has administrative responsibility for implementing programs related to those objectives.

              Prospective candidates can learn more about the current issues affecting the city and school district by attending meetings and connecting with a current council or board member. Contact information is available on the city and school district websites.

              It takes very little financial investment, if any, to run for local office. The local press will often print candidate profiles prior to an election, or host a candidate forum so the public can learn more about their individual viewpoints. Some candidates choose to solicit donations to help run a campaign and pay for yard signs and advertising. In that case, all donations and expenditures must be monitored and reported. A complete guide to campaign finance is available from the State of Wisconsin Ethics Commission.

              For additional information and access to the forms needed to file for candidacy, visit
    www.fortatkinsonwi.net or www.fortschools.org.