Many misconceptions about running for state office have become widely-accepted myths among TSA members. The current state officers have all been through the election process, and we’d like to bust some of these myths for you!
Myth #1: I’d like to run for state office, but the hard work isn’t worth it.
Truth: The campaign process is some of the hardest work that state officer candidates have ever done. However, the process is also incredibly fun and rewarding! Candidates get to meet incredibly cool people from schools all over the state. Even if a candidate is not elected to state office, the friendships he or she has made while campaigning make running a worthwhile experience.
Myth #2: I can’t run for state office because I’m in middle school.
Truth: 8th graders who have been to at least one state conference and have served in a chapter office can run for state office! In fact, Tennessee TSA’s current Vice President, Gus White, ran for Sergeant-at-Arms as an 8th grader and won, serving on the State Officer Team his freshman year of high school.
Myth #3: Giving a speech in front of everyone is the worst part of running for state office.
Truth: Giving a speech might be nerve-wracking to people who haven’t done much public speaking, but the actual experience of speaking on stage is nowhere near as frightening as you might imagine. As long as you know your speech well, delivering it is easy! Remember that your chapter members and the friends you’ve made campaigning are supporting you and cheering you on from the audience. You may not even be able to see much of the audience because of lighting, and if that happens, giving the speech onstage is no different than giving it in a dark closet, which isn’t frightening at all!
Now that you know the truth about running for state office, developing a great campaign is the next step for an aspiring state officer!
Developing a campaign can be overwhelming, but here are some tips to get the ball rolling!
Start developing your campaign early so that you can maximize your planning time. A catchy theme is crucial; starting with some crazy, ridiculous themes can get your brain juices flowing so that you can come up with the most creative campaign slogan possible!
It’s recommended to build your platform on at least three main goals that you will try to accomplish during your term. Once you have decided on a theme and your platform, it’s time to move on to the most intimidating task of all: the speech.
There is no real reason to be intimidated when writing your speech, especially since you now have the building blocks to complete it! When developing a rough draft of your speech, be sure to include a hook and introduction, your campaign slogan or theme, your goals, and your call to action. Get as many people as possible to edit your speech so that it can be as smooth and impressive as possible. After you have completed the final draft of your speech, practice in front of your friends, family, advisors, or even your cat so that you will be more confident!
Once you’re at conference, talk to as many people as possible during your campaign at conference. Instead of bombarding them with information about your campaign, make sure that they understand that you care about them as people. Ask questions about how their chapter is doing, or what events they’re competing in. Maintaining a relationship with our members is very important while serving as a state officer, so let our members know at conference that you care about them! Most importantly, be true to yourself throughout the whole campaign, give everything your all, and you will do great!
This is a very special year to run as a Tennessee state officer because it is the first year that we will be using the "pool" election system. In order to campaign successfully, you will have to know how the pool system works. Basically, instead of running for a specific office, you will run in a presidential pool or a general officer pool. If you would like to run for the office of State President, run in the presidential pool. If you would like to run to become an officer in any of the other five offices, run in the general officer pool. If you run in the presidential pool and are not elected as president, you will automatically become part of the general officer pool and will have a second chance at becoming a state officer. Though the election process is new, the campaigning process will essentially remain the same. Stay calm, meet lots of new people, have fun, and just be yourself!