Candidate College

101: Getting In The Race
Sunday, September 18th, 2011

The following entry in the Candidate College syllabus addresses the petitioning process in detail. Campaign experts Lynn Krogh and Robert Carrol discuss the art and intricacies of petitioning including why it is done, staffing, common pitfalls, every aspect of forms and binding, why, how and when to challenge and what a campaign needs to be prepared.

Want to learn more about the importance of the petitioning process and the different ways it can affect a campaign?

Here are some related articles published by New York Civic:

In My Crash Course in NYC's Broken Election System, Justin Wax-Jacobs, a lifelong Queens resident, chronicles the struggles he encounters while trying to go against the wishes of the established county machine. It highlights the importance of obtaining an election lawyer to make sure that every detail is accurate on your forms and to help you decipher the intricacies of local campaign law.

Tying into Justin's article, the following pieces by StarQuest briefly mention petitioning and more broadly explain the inner-workings of local political machines. These rare and comprehensive first-person perspectives shine a light on the entrenched power structures in place at every level of government and how the odds are stacked against the independent challenger.

Albany: Insider's Rule explains five major "safety nets, political and financial, that guard (incumbents') tenure and disable potential challengers" - one of those being extremely rigorous ballot access rules.

Incumbent Protection Plan is an impassioned defense of the importance of term limits.

And with Candidate College: 10 Essential Tips for Running For Office, Morgan Pehme details the considerations every potential candidate needs to take into account before making a final decision.

The following is the inaugural Candidate College event presented in its entirety. On September 18, 2011, New York Civic hosted a full day of expert panels, each discussing a major aspect of the campaign process. Meant to instruct and prepare neophyte candidates about getting a grassroots effort up and running, these distinguished experts share their experiences in every type of race. Panels include: Fundraising, Consultants, Mastering Media, Social Media, and advice from Elected officials.



Co-Sponsored by

Common Cause New York, Women’s City Club of New York, and New Roosevelt

Media Sponsors:

City Hall & The Capitol

Sunday, September 18th, 2011
8:30 a.m. – 7 p.m.
Touro College Graduate Center
27 West 23rd Street, 6th Floor (between 5th and 6th Avenues)

“Candidate College” will be a free, all-day special event, open to the public, aimed at training citizens of all backgrounds, ages and political beliefs how to mount a serious bid for elected office. The event, which will consist of a series of nonpartisan, non-ideological panel discussions focusing on different aspects of campaign craft, is intended to inspire people to get involved in the political process in the most direct way possible: by becoming a candidate.

“Candidate College” will provide an honest, educated, and unvarnished view of the current state of local electoral politics, and illuminate the pitfalls that often ensnare first-time candidates. Above all, the conference will aim to teach future candidates how to empower their idealism and run a clean, above-the-board, effective campaign, despite all of the obstacles to doing so. The five panels, which will feature real-world experts in their respective fields, will each run about an hour and a half, followed by a Q&A session. Here is the schedule for the conference:

(8:30am-9am): REGISTRATION

(9am-9:40am): OPENING REMARKS

Featuring: Henry Stern, President, New York Civic and former New York City Parks Commissioner and Councilman-at-large; Bill Samuels, Founder, New Roosevelt and former chairman of the New York Democratic Senate Campaign Committee; Ruth Acker, President, Women's City Club of New York

(9:45am-11am) FIGURING OUT FUNDRAISING: Professional fundraisers, campaign finance experts, and grassroots organizers provide strategies and insights into how candidates can raise the money they need to run for office. The discussion will emphasize the virtues of small-money contributions.

Featuring: Al Benninghoff, founding partner, Blueline Campaigns; Oona Chatterjee, Co-Executive Director, Make the Road New York and Campaign Chair, Jesus Gonzalez for Assembly; Eric Friedman, Director of External Affairs, New York City Campaign Finance Board; Jerry H. Goldfeder, election lawyer, Stroock & Stroock & Lavan LLP; and Lisa Hernandez Gioia, fundraising consultant. Moderated by: Susan Lerner, Executive Director, Common Cause New York

(11:05am-12:20pm) MASTERING THE MEDIA: Prominent political reporters, directors of communication, and public relations pros talk about how to interact with the media and bring positive attention to a grassroots campaign.

Featuring: Steven M. Cohen, former Secretary to Governor Andrew Cuomo and Chief of Staff in the Office of the Attorney General; Reid Pillifant, reporter at Capital NY and former editor at NY Observer; Jimmy Vielkind, political reporter for Albany Times Union; Matt Wing, former Director of Communications for Public Advocate Bill de Blasio; Krystal Ball, former Congressional candidate and current MSNBC political analyst; and Andrew Hawkins, Managing Editor, City Hall News; Moderated by: Alexis Grenell, Communications Consultant for the Citizens Crime Commission and former Director of Communications for State Senator Jeff Klein

(12:25pm-1:25pm): LUNCH BREAK (on your own)

(1:30pm-2:45pm) HOW THEY WON: A panel of elected officials from around New York City will talk about their experience running for office and the how they successfully won their seats.

Featuring: State Senator Gustavo Rivera; Councilmember Eric Ulrich; Councilmember Letitia James; District Leader Lincoln Restler; Moderated by: Morgan Pehme, Executive Director, New York Civic

(2:50pm-4:05pm) LESSONS FROM THE PROS: Some of New York's top campaign consultants break down the do's and don'ts of running for office.

Featuring: Bradley Tusk, Founder of Tusk Strategies and Campaign Manager for Mayor Bloomberg's 2009 Campaign; veteran political consultant Roger Stone; political consultant Patrick Jenkins; Emma Wolfe, Chief of Staff to Public Advocate Bill de Blasio; Moderated by Doug Forand, Co-Founder, Red Horse Strategies

(4:10pm-5:25pm) GETTING ORGANIZED: Seasoned field organizers, social networking gurus and political consultants explain how to build the army of supporters every candidate needs to succeed. From organizing your neighborhood block by block to getting legions of followers on Facebook and Twitter, these experts will explain what techniques will really fire up your supporters to get involved and which ones are just a bunch of sound and fury signifying nothing.

Featuring: David Webb, Co-Founder, Tea Party 365 and SiriusXM Radio talk show host; Charles Lenchner, Organizing 2.0; and Evan Burr, co-founder, Campaignology; Moderated by: Benjamin Kallos, Executive Director, New Roosevelt

This event is free, but pre-registration is required in order to attend. To reserve your place in Candidate College, email