Finding your next set of local election candidates

Whilst the General Election has just finished, it is important teams across the country are getting ready for their next set of local elections – whether in 2018, 2019 or even for 2021. In my own council area in Stockport, we already have nearly all of our candidates for 2018 – both target and non-target – to ensure we are getting candidates’ names on leaflets and are building our record of action.

When it comes to finding those candidates it is, of course, a question of asking.

Don’t make it just one person’s responsibility. Ask all councillors, officers and activists to suggest names and divide the ask between a number of people.

In partnership with the LGA, we’ve produced a ‘Be a Councillor’ guide for Liberal Democrat members and supporters. Lib Dem councillors have long been an important democratic voice for the Party. Our well-worn mottos of ‘working hard all year round’ and ‘success you can see’ really mean something to the communities we represent.

The Be a Councillor guide contains information about how councils work, the role of a councillor and most importantly, what being a Lib Dem councillor looks like. Download the Be a Councillor guide.

Another key is to look outside the Party membership. Some of the best potential candidates are not yet Liberal Democrats. Look at community campaigners, the recently retired, community group leaders and people who are interested in local campaigns. They will not all be liberals but some will be and they will already have many of the skills needed. Other places to look include local youth parliaments and school governing bodies. Many of these people will be interested in dipping their toe in the water as a paper candidate but may move on to active campaigning or winnable seats.

Identifying the individuals
Experience has shown there are a number of things that go wrong when we try and find candidates: leaving it too late, leaving it all to one person (who is often busy fighting the campaign as well) and relying on the same old faces etc. It helps to divide it into smaller manageable tasks shared between several people.

Actions to share:

  • Start by inviting all members to apply to stand and do this by letter, email and by phone.
  • Call a meeting of all the past and present members who live in the area, past candidates and others with campaign experience.
  • At the meeting ask all who turn up to scan their memories for any potential people who may be suitable (see the suggested people that you could target list below).

This should build up an appreciable list.

  • Then ask Local Party Executive Committee members either into standing or finding two others to stand.
  • Lastly divide some of the more likely people to approach and those on your list amongst those that have volunteered and the executive members: call them up, visit them and persuade them. Keep a running total with one person co-ordinating the contacts to ensure everyone does what they promise to do.

Suggested people that you could target:

  • past candidates
  • friends and family
  • new members
  • students new to the area
  • people recently retired
  • people who work in the area
  • deliverers and helpers
  • parish councillors
  • Connect Target pool – Volunteer Prospects: Tier One
  • school governors
  • people who move into your area and are party members
  • any activists in a community group
  • contacts and supporters of former/retiring councillors
  • partners of the people who expect to be asked so they can say no!
  • former candidates who only stood because they knew they’d lose
  • people you think could do the job well (don’t forget to tell them that)
  • local party activists
  • council group or MPs’ political assistants (as long as they are not politically restricted)
  • aspiring parliamentary candidates especially those starting out
  • chair of a tenants’ association
  • regular attenders at local community meetings
  • someone one of your councillors knows (from Church, from a community group, from a charity or from work)
  • any local party member or known supporter retiring from a public service or other politically restricted position (eg civil servant, teacher etc)
  • activists in local charity or similar organisations esp if in a leadership role
  • people who put up posters and then do a bit more
  • someone who has been helped by a councillor or MP
  • people contacted through social networks

Fill out this sheet with the details of local residents you think might be suitable Lib Dems candidates in your next set of elections using the above list. Make sure to give deadlines and name a responsible person to make the contact.

David Coole says

Not sure why but I can't save the "be a councillor guide" to my pc or print it. Is there a reason why?

David Coole says

Ignore my comment, for some reason it was taking a very long time to download. Have now saved it to my pc.

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