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6 tips for people with disabilities who want to run for office

By Ed Carter

Running for office is an excellent way to effect change in your community and beyond. But as a person with a disability, you might feel apprehensive about managing an entire political campaign solo. Here are six tips to help you navigate your political run—and maybe even win.

1. Be Realistic About Your Chances

While you might be setting your sights high, it pays to be realistic about your odds of earning votes. Becoming a council member in your city is far different than earning election as a senator, for example. Some roles might even require years of political service before you become eligible for candidacy. Plus, you’ll need to raise funds to handle your campaign’s expenses. 

2. Enlist a Team to Help

Going it alone is a surefire way to lose your political campaign. You might need campaign experts like a campaign manager, media consultant and campaign treasurer. The expertise of others can fuel your decisions and help you navigate the journey. 

There are specialists you might consider as well, like influencer marketing services that can get you promoted on various social media platforms, and an email marketing pro who can help you engage with voters and promote your campaign with targeted emails. Luckily, finding many types of experts is easy when you head online to form connections.

3. Share Your Ideas

You’re probably thinking about campaigning because you feel strongly about one or more causes. Your motivation for running for office is an important factor in your campaign, so sharing your ideas is an essential step. However, Chron explains that you’ll need to have a brief elevator-pitch type slogan for people to really “get” it.

Think about your platform in general terms: what ideal or value is at stake? Take a look at past winning slogans from presidential campaigns for inspiration, but make sure your message is short, sweet, and your own.

4. Find Social Connections

While generating political support is great, you need personal connections, too. Consider speaking with others on social media or online support forums. You might meet people who can offer unique insight on more than just politics. These online friendships can also serve as an outlet whether you’re feeling frustrated or elated about your campaign.

5. Network, Network, Network

Friendships are important, but friends in high places are more powerful. It’s the truth, even if it feels a bit uncomfortable: your political connections can get you places. So, how can you make political connections if you’re new to the city council or local legislature? The answer is networking.

Sitting in on city council meetings or contacting current political office holders through email is a good start. You can also ask personal connections who they know and build up a bigger circle of allies who are politically active. You may even find a mentor in your search who can offer advice on campaigning and other aspects of election. Of course, taking inspiration from past candidates with disabilities can also be inspiring.

6. Use Social Media (Carefully)

Even if physical challenges keep you from going door-to-door to up support your campaign, you can still reach your constituents in meaningful ways. Social media can be an excellent channel for delivering messages to and hearing from your voters.

While overall political activity on social sites is low, both Facebook (six percent) and Twitter (eight percent) users engage about the same amount of political conversation, says Pew Research Center. That means plenty of viewership is available for your political content.

However, you should be cautious about sharing via social media. Like any other politician, you might be subject to a thorough background investigation by public opinion. So, cleaning up your social media profiles is essential before beginning your campaign.   

Becoming a candidate for political office is challenging no matter who you are. Although a disability can make things tougher, it doesn’t change your qualifications or passion for making a difference. If you remain dedicated and have a strong support network, the campaign trail might be just the place for you.

Ed Carter is a retired financial planner. He is the author of Able Future, a comprehensive financial guide for parents with children who have special needs. Learn more at ablefutures.org. Photo via Pexels

Proposals being sought for EMS site

HUNTSVILLE — The Scott County Board of County Commissioners is accepting proposals for real estate suitable for the relocation of the Scott County Ambulance Service.

The ambulance service is currently headquartered at Big South Fork Medical Center in Oneida. However, Scott County will soon build a new facility to replace the aging structure.

Commissioners have considered two pieces of property that were submitted during the last round of bidding: one site on Industrial Lane in Oneida, and a second site at the intersection of Paint Rock Road and Buffalo Road in Oneida. By a 9-2 vote on March 15, commissioners rejected both of those proposals, due to cost concerns.

The deadline for proposals to be submitted is noon on Thursday, April 1. The Scott County Finance Committee will meet in special session that same afternoon to unseal and consider any proposals that have been submitted.

For more information on the specifics of the proposal, contact the Scott County Department of Finance.

All Scott County adults now eligible for Covid-19 vaccine

HUNTSVILLE — All Scott Countians ages 16 and older are eligible to be vaccinated against novel coronavirus, beginning Wednesday, March 24, 2021.

Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee announced Tuesday, March 23, that vaccination eligibility was being expanded to included all adults. One day earlier, Gov. Lee had said that vaccinations would be available to all adults by April 5 at the latest, but would be available within a few days in some parts of the state.

Scott County residents can schedule a vaccination at the Scott County Health Department by calling 866-442-5301. Or, you can visit www.vaccinefinder.org to find a list of providers in your zip code where appointments can be scheduled for one of the three vaccinations that have been approved by the FDA.

The Moderna and Pfizer vaccines require two injections; the Janssen vaccine by Johnson & Johnson requires one injection. However, the Moderna vaccine is currently the only one being offered locally. Big South Fork Medical Center has exhausted its supply of the Janssen vaccine.

Scott County Mayor Jeff Tibbals urges local residents to be vaccinated.

“Please consider getting the vaccine so we can put this mess behind us and, more importantly, save lives,” Mayor Tibbals said.

As of Tuesday, there were 54 active cases of coronavirus in Scott County. There have been a total of 2,958 Scott Countians infected with the virus, which has claimed 44 lives in Scott County.

Jamie Byrd appointed new EMS director

HUNTSVILLE — By a vote of 12-2 on Tuesday, Feb. 16, the Scott County Board of County Commissioners appointed Jamie Byrd as the new director of the Scott County Ambulance Service.

Mr. Byrd had served as EMS director in an interim capacity since the retirement of Jim Reed in 2020. He is a veteran paramedic with the ambulance service.

There were two candidates to declare an official interest in the vacancy. The second was Rick Russ, a former paramedic at the ambulance service and a former member of the Scott County Board of County Commissioners.

Supporting Mr. Byrd were Commissioners Donnie Bowlin, Patti Brown, Sheila Buttram, Benny Carson, Harold Chambers, Blue Day, David Jeffers, Jerried Jeffers, Sam Lyles, Kenny Morrow, Mike Slaven and Paul Strunk.

Supporting Mr. Russ were Commissioners Kenny Chadwell and Shonda Gray.

Tiffany Jeffers appointed property assessor

HUNTSVILLE — By a 12-2 vote on Tuesday, Feb. 16, the Scott County Board of County Commissioners appointed Tiffany Jeffers to the role of Scott County Assessor of Property. Mrs. Jeffers will serve in that role until the next general election, in August 2022.

Mrs. Jeffers replaces Anthony “Tony” Sexton, who passed away unexpectedly in December 2020. Mr. Sexton, a long-time employee of the Assessor’s Office, was elected to the role of Property Assessor in August 2016, and had just been re-elected in August 2020.

Scott County received two applications for the vacancy: In addition to Mrs. Jeffers, Heath Sexton — the daughter of Mr. Sexton — was a candidate.

Mrs. Jeffers is a 16-year veteran of the Assessor’s Office, and served as Deputy Assessor of Property under Mr. Sexton.

Voting in support of Mrs. Jeffers were Commissioners Donnie Bowlin, Benny Carson, Kenny Chadwell, Harold Chambers, Blue Day, Shonda Gray, David Jeffers, Jerried Jeffers, Sam Lyles, Kenny Morrow, Mike Slaven and Paul Strunk.

Voting in support of Ms. Sexton were Commissioners Patti Brown and Sheila Buttram.