There are many ways you can take part in democracy beyond voting. The most substantial of these is to run for office. There are many elected positions throughout the state and in your immediate community, from school board and local council (in your town) to county committee (in your party) to county commissioner or clerk (in the county) and finally to state legislature.
Running for office may not be as hard as you think, and once elected, you can really affect your community and our government for the better.
- Assembly or Senate – under construction, stay tuned
- School Board – The school board is extremely important. School boards oversee the schools in the district, they manage budgets that are often larger than the township budget and, of course, schools are educating our future. You only need 10 signatures to petition to run. Find all the information from the New Jersey School Boards Association Candidate Kit.
- County Committee – County committee members are Party representatives elected in the primary elections (and not in the general election). In most of New Jersey, each polling district has two county committee members for each of the two major parties (Democratic and Republican), though some counties do not organize based on polling districts but rather “at large” for a whole town, or proportional to the number of registered voters in each polling district.
County committee members are the “boots on the ground” getting out the vote for the party candidates. County committee roles may seem small, but in New Jersey county committees are extremely important as they determine (together with the County Clerk – another elected position) the physical organization of the ballot, and specifically, which candidates get The Line. In some forms of townships in NJ, the municipal committee (a subset of the county committee, see below) also nominates replacements for Township Committee members, if one were to step down. To learn more about what a county committee person does, what levers of powers they can use, and how to run for county committee, see our training videos or join one of our online training events. But you should know that to be elected as a county committee member you don’t necessarily need many votes: these are local positions, and many are vacant and have no candidates. You can even write yourself in on election day! (People have won with one vote.) Also, you can fill a vacancy in your polling district after the election by contacting the head of your municipal committee (the “municipal chair”)and offering your help. The municipal committee can vote to appoint people to any vacancy. Note that your role on a county committee is a dual role (elected once) — you are automatically part of both the municipal committee and the county committee.
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