How to run for a board or commission

Every city and town across America has public boards and commissions that advise local governments on policies that impact the community. Joining a public board or commission can be the first step in running for office. The position will give you extensive policy expertise, show community service and leadership, and at the same time provides you with a more public platform to demonstrate that leadership and expertise.

So how do you get appointed?

1) Find seats that need to be filled.

Visit your local city or county website and find out what boards and commissions exist and where there are vacancies. Don't rule yourself out for not having perfectly relevant professional experience - personal experience counts. Lived in public housing? Had a parent a disability? Who better than you to inform policies around those issues.

2) Determine how the vacancy gets filled.

Does the local city council member in each district get one spot? Does the Mayor appoint everyone? What is the deadline and process by which you apply? Download what you need and try to meet with the person in charge of making the appointment.

3) Prepare for your interview.

Know what qualifications they are looking for. Be able to articulate why you want to serve and what interests you about the position. Research the major issues that will be coming up in front of the board or commission this year and what you think about those issues.

4) Apply and do not be afraid of following up!

Local government can be sluggish - track the progress of your application and follow up with the people in charge of the process in a timely manner.

If you get accepted, great! And if you do not, don't despair. Dust yourself off and reapply for another position you care about. Oftentimes people get appointed for something the second time around. Dedication to community service lasts a lifetime and this is just the start of your political career.

Watch the recording of our webinar for more information

IGNITE Program Facilitator Brooke Lopez shares advice on running for a board seat