Role in constituent services
In addition to election-related activities, committee people play a key role in helping their constituents get the services they need from the government. While these tasks fall directly on elected government officials, committee people serve as advocates for their divisions and help them navigate the often-complicated system.
Role in the Party
Finally, committee people have a direct role in determining who serves in the leadership positions within the party. Most importantly, committee people elect the Ward Leader, who represents all divisions within the ward on the City Committee. As we learned earlier, the City Committee has a large mandate and influence, and steers the overall direction of the entire party.
How do you become a committeeperson?
So, maybe you’re thinking, “Sure, I want to be engaged, but I don’t want to run for something.” That’s what many people in our group thought too. But this is not the same as running for a government office. It doesn’t require the same time or financial commitment and it’s much less competitive than the regular “run for office” that you might be envisioning. This is a “party” position, not a “public” position, so there is a lot less on the line for you personally!
Most committee people are elected with only 20–80 votes. Philadelphia 3.0 has a great article about the stats behind committeeperson races and how uncompetitive they are. For example, only 14% of divisions in Philly had a competitive race in 2014. 26% had less than two candidates on the ballot (for two positions!) and 60% had exactly two. After the 2014 election, 10% of committeeperson seats were unfilled. This essentially means that if you run, it’s very likely you will win.
Nuts and bolts
The committeeperson elections are during the 2018 Primary elections on May 15th.
The first step to running is getting your name on the ballot. To do this, you must by submit a nominating petition to City Hall. A nominating petition is a document signed by registered Democrats in your division supporting your run for committeeperson. You only need 10 signatures (!), but a lot of these signatures can get thrown out (if they aren’t legible, if it turns out that person isn’t actually registered in your division, etc.), so we recommend that you knock every door in your division—a great way to get to know your neighbors and grease the wheels for your actual campaign to get elected, which starts after you get on the ballot.
The first day to start getting signatures (and also the first day to submit your nominating petition, if you’re really on your game) is February 13th.
The last day to submit it is March 6th—a tight timeline! Here’s a timeline of key deadlines and deliverables for the 2018 election cycle: