Free political course for one day

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Whether you are considering running for office, have already announced your candidacy, or are already an incumbent or public servant, Go Forward Pine Bluff, in association with the Pine Bluff Regional Chamber of Commerce, wishes to assist those interested in politics by providing a candidate. Development Institute “Crash Course” free.

Normally a six-week programme, which began in 2017 as part of the GFPB offering, this one-day course will highlight the do’s and don’ts of running a political campaign.

“We have so many interested parties that we wanted them to be prepared for what they graciously agreed to do,” said Ryan Watley, CEO of GFPB.

Past courses have covered a range of topics to help better prepare candidates to run for office or participate in a campaign.

Some of the topics covered were:

  • How to get elected
  • Information you need to know when running for office
  • · Lobbying and campaign finance and ethics
  • · Grassroots campaigns, campaign plans, strategies and tactics and media relations
  • Fundraising, enactment of laws and lessons learned from the campaign
  • Sales tax for economic development and how an elected official influences economic progress in your community
  • · Maintain complete and accurate financial records
  • Vote for progress in your community

According to Watley, an expert instructor will deliver a presentation and initiate dialogue during a question-and-answer session.

Watley said the institute is open to people considering applying for a position, campaign managers or anyone with a general interest in how campaigns are run.

Incumbents and those who wish to serve on a public commission are also encouraged to attend. Participants aren’t just limited to Jefferson County, according to Wately, who said there were participants outside of Jefferson County.

Board member Joni Alexander graduated from CDI in 2017 and although she worked at Pine Bluff Town Hall before running for office, she recommends the course as a tool.

“I knew the functionality of all city departments and the role of its employees,” Alexander said. “I worked in the clerks’ and mayor’s office, which allowed me to come into my position with institutional knowledge.”

For less fortunate candidates, Alexander advises anyone interested in running for office to immerse themselves in this climate and culture.

“It’s the only way to really understand the ins and outs,” said Alexander, who pioneered the idea of ​​having a class for citizens who would like to be more involved.

“The state already defines what is needed to be a candidate,” Alexander said. “I see more of a lack of civic literacy than anything else.”

Alexander adds that if voters understood the role of elected officials, some would not sit on city council.

Besides Alexander, Watley said several city and county leaders are CDI graduates.

To name a few, Glen Brown, Jr., Bill Brumett, Tavante L. Calhoun Sr., Leigh Cockrum, Lloyd A. Franklin II, Vonysha Goodwin, Chandra Griffin, Wil Jenkins, Reginald Johnson, Mary Pringos, Sederick C. Rice, Shawndra Taggart, Lyslie Trammell, and Lafayette Woods Jr., all attended the course.

“It’s a blessing to be called to lead, but to whom much is given, it takes a lot,” Alexander said. “It’s thankless work, but only those who do it for the ‘thank you’ will be disappointed.”

With the influx of city council candidacy announcements over the past few weeks with the anticipation of more to come, Watley said the crash course will provide the tools needed to run a successful campaign.

“We are delighted with the interest of the city government,” he said. “We don’t want people to be nervous. With this course, they can run their campaign with confidence and have institutional knowledge.”

The Candidate Development Institute Crash Course will be held Thursday, February 3 at 5:50 p.m. at The Generator located at 435 Main Street in Pine Bluff. For more information, call the Pine Bluff Regional Chamber of Commerce at 870-535-0110.

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