Many people get involved in politics because they are passionate about an issue; they are concerned about soaring property taxes, overdevelopment, ensuring quality education for our children, or guaranteeing our civil rights–whatever the issue, at one point or another your political party has had a heavy hand in the decision making process.
People understand that they need to participate in the political process if they want results. For most that participation is limited to showing up on Election Day and casting a vote, for the more engaged it may be going door to door and helping out in a specific candidate’s campaign.
What we don’t often recognize is that those individuals who assume party leadership have a direct impact on which candidates run and what issues are on the party platform (if any). These positions are available to ANY concerned citizen and the time to seize the power is now.
The great thing about serving on the county committee is that it does not require a large investment of time, and provides a large measure of control of who represents us in Trenton.
In addition to electing the county party chair and awarding the party line for Senate and Assembly seats along with local offices, the county committee members participate in filling vacancies in office when someone resigns in disgrace, retires, or passes away. Shockingly, more than a third of the legislature has entered office by way of a vote of the county committee, not the general public.
It’s because the county committees wield so much power that Senator Loretta Weinberg (D-37) and Senator Diane Allen (R-7) sponsored the Party Democracy Act, to ensure the political parties adopt rules and procedures ensuring fundamental fairness and guaranteeing a secret ballot when making important votes. The Party Democracy Act was signed into law in 2009, and now every Republican and Democratic voter is offered a fair chance to vote their conscience.
So if you’re ready to do something, here are some basic tips for running for county committee. 1) Find out from your municipal clerk which political party committee seats are up for election this year; 2) Complete the Party Declaration Form (Democratic or Republican Party) for the County Committee you wish to run for; 2) Get a petition & required number of signatures from the municipal clerk (in most cases no more than 10 signatures needed); 3) File the petition with your town clerk by April 11th; 4) Show up on June 7th with your family and friends and vote for yourself (most seats are won with just a few dozen votes or less).
Visit www.TheCitizensCampaign.com and take our free, half-hour online class and learn the tips and tools to become a successful neighborhood party leader.
Once elected, you have the power to adopt or amend your party constitution, create your party platform, and seek the chairmanship of your county party.
The bottom line is, if you want to gain these powers, then you need to take this opportunity to step up to the plate.