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Should You Run?

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Should you run for public office? The city council, county commission, or state legislature?

Don’t scoff. Where do you think politicians come from? Answer: Many come from appointed positions where they learn how government works, acquaint themselves with political leaders and taste public attention.

But should you run? Is it a natural next step for rising civic leaders? Can you do more as an elected official than an appointed? More to the point, will you like it?

It’s not an idle question. Elected officials, academics, and journalists who cover politics agree: If you don’t enjoy politics — either campaigning for office or fashioning public policy — you’ll be miserable as an elected official. Richard Foglesong, who teaches politics at Rollins College in Florida, says the chief reward of political office “is your taste for politics. That can be compensating. It can justify the large investment of time and money, if you just enjoy the game.”

An interest in politics, then, should be your first consideration in deciding whether to run for office. But it’s not the only one. …

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