How to Get Elected as a City Councillor

How to Get Elected as a City Councillor: Steps to Take

If making a difference at the local level matters to you, and you envision yourself being able to shake things up for the better as a member of city council, then follow the steps below to take that vision and turn it into a reality.




Step 1: Get to Know Your Community

You can't win without a voter base. Get involved in community groups, hobby and sports associations, volunteering your time with charities, and becoming friends with business owners in your community are great ways to become a respectable and well-known citizen in your community. Don’t forget, you’ll also need a good understanding of the geography of your ward or district and its boundaries, so be sure to study it. 




Step 2: Get to Know the Issues

Learn the issues that affect your community (your city as a whole, and your ward), if you don’t already have a deep knowledge of them. Reading local papers and attending public forums are great ways to increase your awareness of these issues. Later on, you can discuss them with the voters he meets and even include them in your campaign materials.




Step 3: Finalize Decision to Run

Decide if, and why, you want to run. Do you love your community? Are you involved? Do you like speaking in front of people? Do you have some name recognition or deep involvement in your ward or district? These all need to be answered with a “yes”. 




Step 4: Ensure You Meet the Basic Requirements

Next, you’ll want to ensure you meet your province/state mandated basic requirements for running. Check with your provincial/state Election Commission’s office to get information about what these requirements may be.




Step 5: Get Your Name on the Ballot

Check with your provincial/state Election Commission’s office in your city as to how you can submit your name for candidacy. If your province or state requires you to sign and submit a petition in order to submit your candidacy, then get in touch with all of the friends and associates you’ve made at the charity groups, associations and other groups you belong to get enough of the required number of signatures for your petition.





Step 6: Assess the Political Landscape

Find out who might oppose you in the race, and the key issues and concerns of your future constituents. Reviewing recent voting patterns and the voting history of your district is a great way to accomplish this, as is reviewing the any voting data related to your competition in the race, or your predecessor.


Meeting with other city leaders officials and former elected officials is also a great way to learn about the political landscape of the city and district.




Step 7: Hire a Campaign Manager/Organize a Team

Hire a well-known and respected campaign manager. They can help you form a team that will support and help you run the campaign, which will include personnel such as public relations, fund development, treasurer, and Volunteer organizers.


Your campaign manager and team can help with organizing and managing your campaign, as well as provide assistance with handling your campaign finances. Your campaign team can also help you find opportunities to make public speeches, participate in charitable events, and even go door to door to speak with and gain the notice of voters. 




Step 8: Develop Your Platform

You know the issues inside and out by now. Develop a platform that offers your future constituents solutions to old and new problems they are facing. Be sure to prepare a list of reasons as to why you’re the top candidate and practice saying. Break these reasons down, and practice them, so you can explain to voters why you’re the best candidate for the job.




Step 9: Fundraise

Leverage any means of raising funds that you can. Your campaign can cost anywhere from $1,000 to $200,000…or more (depending on the city of the city you’re running in).




Step 10: Campaign, Campaign, Campaign

Getting your name out there is critical for getting elected to council. Going door-to-door to speak with constituents in your ward, and getting some name recognition can be the difference between a landslide election victory, and hardly getting any votes.








City Councillor Career Path Guide

Visit our "How to Become a City Councillor" career path guide to learn more about what you would be doing as a city councillor, how much you could earn, and the education, experience and traits you'll need to succeed.




Please consult the following references to learn more about what it takes to run for a seat on your city’s council, and how to get elected:


• Calgary Board of Education website - So you want to run for city council…:

• Interrupt Magazine - How to Run for City Council:


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