Aberdeen Chamber of Commerce hosts the Campaign School

ABERDEEN, SD (Dakota News Now) – Aberdeen is starting to encourage local residents to run for office in the 2024 election.

Aberdeen Chamber of Commerce and Aberdeen Home Builders Association hosted a campaign school on Thursday.

Chamber of Commerce President Gail Ochs said their goal is to educate residents that becoming an elected official is an attainable goal.

“We only believe that strong candidates should be nominated for the post of president. There’s nothing worse than an election in which no one participates, right? So we want to make sure we are in front of potential candidates and get them the information they need. Some will decide to move on. Some may not decide,” Ochs said.

The class was led by National Association of Home Builders Vice President Carl Eckhart. Eckhart said no politics were discussed during the class, but the Home Builders Association hopes to network with potential future candidates.

“Availability of housing is our goal. It’s a problem that happens everywhere in America, and we’re trying to fix it. This will only be fixed if local officials are committed to providing more housing,” Eckhart said.

During the training, the participants learned that it is possible to start a successful campaign by working as little as possible. Current leaders also participated to improve the best practices of the election campaign.

“We start with why are you running? Then we talk about fundraising, we talk about how to do research on ourselves and our potential opponents, how to talk to the media, then how to talk to voters. Do you do direct mail? Do you go online with videos? What’s the right way to campaign?” said Eckhart.

While local government positions may not be as glamorous as a state or national office, Ochs said it’s a great opportunity for those who are passionate about their community.

“Of course, I hear things like, ‘Oh, I’d never do that,’ because sometimes it seems like a very thankless job. But definitely, if you’re passionate about your community or you’re passionate about the state and you have the skills that “You can bring it to the table, try it. Do it,” Ochs said.

The position of local government is also important for creating a prosperous society.

“The streets are being plowed, the water pressure is on when the showers are turned on, making sure your schools are safe and have good teachers, that’s what happens in the city council and the school board. If there are people who don’t want to do good government in those positions, then you don’t have a good city,” Eckhart said.

Having multiple candidates for local government office also allows for inclusive elections.

“I think it’s democracy at its best. Usually in these schools when I do them around the country, there’s opposition in the classroom. That’s great. The more the merrier. I think I think it gets more ideas out there. It allows voters to actually find someone they agree with. It also helps voter turnout. If there are more people and more ideas out there, so the person who says, “I hate politicians and I hate politics. Wait a minute, that person said something I agree with.’ “Well, now they’re voting. There needs to be more ideas in our political system right now. That’s a big problem,” Eckhart said.

The 2023 campaign school was the second year the class has been offered in Aberdeen, and Eckhart and Ochs both said they want to make it an annual event.

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