This time of year, I meet with many potential candidates. These candidates often don’t have the experience or contacts needed to run for elective office. When I tell them this they usually ask me about how to get the necessary experience and gain the best contacts.
Here is my advice:
Get involved with a group that fosters leadership. A few weeks ago, I did a candidate training for Emerge California, a great group that trains and mentors women to run for office. Many major cities have groups, like Leadership San Francisco, that develop community leaders.
If leadership groups are not available to you, join a local service club and apply for a board or commission appointment. Many community boards and commissions have a difficult time filling vacancies. The best way to find what is available is to talk with city clerks. Usually, the clerks are more than happy to let you know what openings are available.
In San Francisco, you can visit: http://www.sf311.org/index.aspx?page=766 and access the City’s on-line database of vacancies.
Before you run, at the very least, get involved in your community.