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How do I Become a Mayor?

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  • Written By: Ken Black
  • Edited By: Andrew Jones
  • Last Modified Date: 04 December 2016
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The process to become a mayor is often determined by local code and jurisdiction, though some regulations may be set at the regional, state or national level as well. If you wish to become a mayor, in most cases you will need to go through an election process. This process determines whether you are qualified, and whether you have the support of the people in your town or city. Getting to that step involves paying special attention to a myriad of rules and regulations.

First, you must determine if you have the basic requirements or prerequisites needed to become a mayor. Often, you must be a certain age, perhaps even eligible to vote. Those who are not eligible to vote because of age or prior criminal activity may not be able to become a mayor, but this differs widely by jurisdiction. Local codes should help determine what the requirements are.

Often, in a democratic society, to get on the ballot to become a mayor, you need to go through a petition process. This involves getting a certain number of signatures, often determined as a percentage of the voters in last election for the mayor’s office. Once those signatures have been collected, they must be turned in before a certain deadline. In some cases, a political party may be able to nominate you for this local government seat, but that differs by jurisdiction.

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Once you have collected the signatures needed, you probably need to sign a statement declaring yourself as a candidate for mayor. This must be turned in with the petition by the appropriate deadline. This ensures the election staff will have enough time to not only look over your information and validate it, but also place your name on the ballot.

If your campaign reaches a certain dollar amount, you will likely need to follow campaign finance statements in your quest to become a mayor. These statements must be filed at predetermined intervals, once your campaign reaches a certain threshold in terms of income or expenditures. These requirements also vary but must be strictly adhered to. In some cases, you could forfeit your candidacy or even be charged criminally if you are found out of compliance.

Depending on your specific situation, you may actually have to go through more than one election before you can become a mayor. For example, many jurisdictions may have primaries to whittle down a field of candidates, or at least determine which candidates will represent which political parties. Once this is done, you can then move onto the general election, provided you are successful in the primary.

In addition to the logistical matters that you must complete, you will also need to find time and funds to campaign and connect with people. If you have a greater connection with the people and explain yourself to them simply, you may stand a better chance of being elected. You can get your message out using several different strategies such as mailers, letters, personal appearances, and even television and radio advertising, if your market is big enough.

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