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Experts give advice on getting elected

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Posted: Thursday, April 8, 2010 12:00 am

It's too late to seek public office in the June primary, but there will be plenty of seats available in the November election, such as the Lodi and Galt city councils, school boards in Lodi, Acampo, Galt and Thornton, plus a host of small rural fire and water districts.

Three elected officials from Stockton — San Joaquin County Supervisor Steve Bestolarides, Stockton Vice Mayor Kathy Miller and Lincoln Unified School District trustee Paul Canepa — told prospective candidates why they ran for public office and what it takes to be a successful candidate during a two-hour workshop Wednesday night at University of the Pacific.

Don Parsons, who has helped run campaigns for 200 local candidates during the past 20 years, added his advice along with Austin Erdman, the county's registrar of voters.

"Politics qualifies as a full-contact sport," Bestolarides said. "When you run for office, you really find out who you are."

Bestolarides, Miller and Canepa explained why they ran for public office in the first place after having careers in other fields. They also discussed the pluses and minuses to running and serving in office.

Bestolarides, who had a banking career before serving on the Stockton City Council for six years and the Board of Supervisors for a little more than a year, described running for office a "humbling experience."

You get doors slammed in your face, especially when pro football is on TV, and you spend a lot of time away from your family, Bestolarides said. You're out at meetings or events about three times a week once you're elected, he added.

Parsons emphasized the need to have an understanding spouse because they'll read attacks about you in newspapers and by people in the community. Spouses will take these attacks harder than you — the candidate or elected official, Parsons aid.

Miller said she ran for Stockton City Council because there weren't any qualified candidates in her council district in 2008, Canepa said he ran at Lincoln Unified after volunteering at his daughter's school and serving on the site council and Bestolarides said he ran for city and county offices because "it's in my DNA."

Canepa said he experienced two things outside his comfort zone while running for the school board in 2004 — speaking in public and asking people for campaign money.

Miller said it helps to be competitive when running for a council or board.

"If you're not a competitive person, you won't win," Miller said. "You kind of have to like the hunt. I love out-thinking my opponent."

Steve Smith, a Stockton Unified School District candidate, said after the workshop that you really have to have a passion and long-term vision for the district to be an effective candidate.

Xochitl Paderes, a Stockton City Council candidate, said she wasn't scared off by what it takes to run. She said she's proven to be thick-skinned. She has little support among elected officials, but quite a bit from friends and business people.

Erdman said that he is willing to help any candidate or someone considering running for office. He has a booklet describing each local office and what is required at the Registrar of Voters office, 44 N. San Joaquin St., Stockton. It can also be found online at www.sjcrov.org.

Contact reporter Ross Farrow at rossf@lodinews.com.

Advice for those considering public office

Don Parsons, political consultant
— "No. 1, talk to your spouse. If you don't have your spouse's 110 percent support, you're dead. Always make sure you introduce your spouse at events."
— "Ask yourself why you're running. If you don't know, you have no business running."
— Don't run for public office as a younger person. Accomplish something professionally before you run for office.
— "Ask yourself, 'Can you win in this district?' Are you a Democrat in a Republican district or a Republican in a Democratic district?"
— Find out how much a successful candidate in the race you're running for spent. Then talk to that person for advice.
— "If you can't ask friends for (campaign) money, don't run." Parsons estimates that it costs about $1 per voter to run a campaign.
— Get a list of friends — from your Christmas card list or service club list — and ask them to walk precincts or make phone calls on your behalf.
— Ask yourself what are the best things people say about you and what are the worst things people about you. If you're thin-skinned, don't run.

Paul Canepa, Lincoln Unified School District trustee/Stockton City Council candidate
— "Don't complain unless you're going to try to fix it."
— "You have to have thick skin."
— "If someone convinces you to run, don't run."

Peter Johnson, county planning commissioner, former Lodi Unified School District trustee
— "If you don't like people, don't run for public office. It will show through."

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Welcome to the discussion.


  • posted at 5:42 pm on Thu, Apr 8, 2010.


    Pressure, could you cite one source? Or share with us one bit of proof? Anything? I'm sure the LNS, Record, SacBee, or Examiner would love to see proof of what you are always proclaiming.

  • posted at 5:41 am on Thu, Apr 8, 2010.


    LodiJoe, I notice how some of our council members and city mangers have noticeably increased their portfolios and assets greatly since voting to approve all these developments, helping out the large county wineries, fancy restaurants, hotels, spas and businesses owned by the local high rollers and good old boys. And don't forget the $99 or less checks and contributions that don't have to be declared. I'll bet F$M bank hires extra help to process all those contribution checks, money orders and cash. Since they don't have to declare it, just how much do they stuff in their own pockets, portfolio or local bank? Election season is a cash windfall for anyone who campaigns and you can find a lot of that money used for lobbying rooms, meals and spa treatments at the motel where the wealthy congregate and vacation on someone else's money. LOL

  • posted at 2:22 am on Thu, Apr 8, 2010.


    They forgot how to line your pockets with money through back room deals, how to accept bribes and payola without being discovered and how to lie about what you will do during your campaign. After all, you might want to run for President some day.



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