This post is part of a ten-part series on preparing to run for local office. For the rest of the series, check out the links in the introductory post.
When you decide to run for office, one of the first things you want to do is determine who your "kitchen cabinet" will be. It's not quite as formal as it sounds. You just need to know who your closest, most trusted advisers will be.
Why? You should use your kitchen cabinet to:
1. Help you develop a fundraising list
2. Give you honest feedback
3. Be a sounding board for ideas
4. Help you find the the people who can help you
5. Help you decide on staff and consultant hires
There are a lot of decisions to be made early in a campaign. Many can be overwhelming. Your kitchen cabinet will help you with this. Here's what Catherine Shaw writes about the purpose of the kitchen cabinet in her book The Campaign Manager:
The relatively small campaign committee serves two functions: first, it is a support group, both for itself and for the candidate or issue-based campaign; second, it is the primary source of expertise for the campaign. This small, select group will maneuver and steer a campaign while drawing on the resources of the community. The committee should consist of individuals who have different personal strengths and areas of ability.
The committee should have 6-7 members. Include the candidate's spouse and representation across as many areas of the city as you can. You'll want to cover the city geographically. You want to have people whose networks cover the city: a business person, someone connected to the non-profit community, someone with media contacts, etc.
I suggest you formally ask members to be a part of the committee to get some personal commitment from the members to your campaign. And meet as often as schedules allow, but its not necessary to meet more than once a week.
Use your kitchen cabinet. When you don't know who to call for money, they can help you. When you need someone to review your press release, they can do that. When you can't find the right person to hire, they can make a suggestion. Your kitchen cabinet will help you run a smoother, more effective campaign.
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