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How Do I Become a City Councilman?

City councilmen are elected by the voting residents of a city.
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  • Written By: N. Madison
  • Edited By: Jenn Walker
  • Last Modified Date: 10 July 2014
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A city councilman is a person who serves on city council and helps to manage the city’s government, make laws, manage funding, and establish policies. The exact requirements a person must meet to become a city councilman may depend on where he lives. Different countries and localities may set their own unique requirements. In most cases, however, this is an elected position. A person must run in an election to be chosen as a city councilman and is usually required to be an adult, eligible to vote, and a resident of the city in which he is seeking election.

A person who wants to become a city councilman essentially wants to help to run his city. Often, a person in this position is elected by a specific district and is expected to work for the good of that district. He may, however, be elected to represent all of the city's voters in some places.

Part of city councilman's job is voting on matters important to the city and its residents. For example, he may vote on zoning issues. He may also help to supervise city agencies. Often, a person in this position is also called on to vote to approve the mayor’s budget. He may also help to appoint members of commissions and designate a chair for the city council.

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Since a person who wants to work as a city councilman usually has to run for this position, he typically spends time networking and helping others to get to know him and his politics. Often, an aspiring councilman starts out by learning when the city’s elections will take place and planning a strategy to make himself known. He may attend open city council meetings and even join committees in an effort to learn about current issues in his city and gain notice. When appropriate, he may also speak up at open-forum meetings and make an effort to get to know his city’s officials in preparation for the election.

A person who wants to become a city councilman will typically need to organize a small election campaign team. For example, he may enlist help with managing his campaign and may also seek assistance with handling his campaign finances. His campaign team may help him 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. An aspiring city councilman may also ask his campaign team to pass out or mail campaign materials to those he hopes to convince to vote for him.

When an individual is campaigning to become a city councilman, he usually works hard to learn the issues voters consider most important. Then, he can discuss those issues with the voters he meets and even include them in his campaign materials. If he can convince enough people to vote for him, he may have a good chance of becoming a city councilman.

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Post 3

@ COmparables- More than anything being a politician is about your ability to market yourself. In a sense, you should be a master of BS. You want to be able to stir emotion with your speaking, yet still be concise and honest about your position on issues. You also need to focus heavily on networking learning issues, and be able to take criticism. Confidence is probably your best asset. No one likes to vote for someone who second guesses themselves regardless of what their opinion or position is. What your line of work is, or where you went to school is of little significance to the average person since most people are not college graduates. If you can relate to more people than your competitor, than you’re likely to be the chosen one.

Babalaas
Post 2

@ Comparables- There are no real set standards for politicians as far as a field of expertise or education are concerned. In National politics, a law degree combined with an undergrad degree in any social science can be quite helpful. This is not to exclude scientists and engineers. Today's problems are so complex that it often takes someone equally skilled in the natural sciences and critical thought to lead through these issues.

If you have strong writing, speaking and critical thinking skills you would probably be quite successful as a politician. In a position such as councilperson, having an engineering or architectural background could be an advantage. Cities are under pressure to redesign themselves due to the increasing scarcity and costs of resources. Someone who is skilled in design could certainly help a city become more resilient.

Comparables
Post 1

Is there a specific field of expertise someone should focus on to make their way into city council, or is it based more on career experience. I have always been an active listener and participant in local politics, just as my parents have before me. I feel like I should be an active participant since I have to live in this city. Most of the decisions that are made pertain to the average person, but so often it seems like the city councils only make decisions that will help the wealthiest developers, not improve the quality of life. I have no formal education in political science, but I have been a successful engineer for the past few years and I have an understanding of the way businesses work. I feel like I would be a better politician than half of these council members simply for the fact that I work in a team setting every day.

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