Signs of spring:
• There’s a huge line at the garden center.
• I am going through a lot of allergy medication.
• Political campaigns are being launched.
It was the third item on the list that brought me to Clark County Auditor Greg Kimsey’s annual “Winning Ways to Run for Office” workshop for political candidates. In two information-packed hours, guest speakers cover everything from complying with campaign funding disclosure requirements to local sign regulations. Some of the speakers had great tips on campaign strategy, too.
My role was to talk about how to interact with the news media.
The first question is whether to interact with the news media. The short answer is yes. Every year, we get a few candidates who simply don’t talk to us. I guess this a purposeful decision, but I don’t understand the strategy. I do, however, see the results: These candidates almost always finish in last place.
So that’s my first bit of advice: Candidates should use the news media to publicize themselves and their campaigns. Paid media — signs, mailers — are very expensive. People won’t vote for people unless they know about them and what they stand for. News interviews are an ideal way for candidates to sell themselves.
At The Columbian, we generally try to write a story about candidates when they declare for offices such as city council or school board. For uniformity, we generally play these stories on the bottom half of Page C1. If the candidate can provide us with a portrait, or if we have a recent one on file, it will accompany the story. And, please, I told the candidates, no selfies!
The next time the candidates are likely to see their name in the paper is filing week, which begins Monday. We will do a story on Monday for Columbian.com (Tuesday for print) with all the candidates’ names, focusing on any surprises and the larger offices, such as Vancouver City Council or Evergreen school board. We’ll update our list throughout the week, and we’ll do a wrap-up story after filings close on Friday afternoon.