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Interested in Running for County Board–Here’s What You Need to Do

In my last article for the Chronicle, I described some of my experiences as a county board supervisor,  county board and committee meeting schedules, and some general background information.  I closed the article by urging citizens to step up and consider running for office.   In this article, I will describe requirements for becoming a candidate and the process for getting on the ballot.  

The requirements for running for county board are what you might expect; a resident of the district in which you plan to run, at least 18 years of age at the time of election, not a convicted felon, and not convicted of a misdemeanor which breeches the public trust.  Requirements do permit a person to hold office at the town board or city council level and also run for County Board.  Currently, there are several County Board supervisors that hold another local office.  

You may be aware that Columbia County just went through the decennial redistricting process.  Relatively, few changes were made to supervisory districts.  If you are not certain which supervisory district you live in, you can visit the county website, co.columbia.wi.us and search for ‘Supervisor District Map.’  

There are forms, of course.  They are, for the most part, straight forward and not too challenging to complete.  The first is a Campaign Finance Registration Statement, CF-1.  You can find this form along with instructions for completing it at  ethics.wi.gov.  They are also available from the County Clerk’s office.  The purpose of this document is to show how you will finance your campaign and if you plan to form campaign committee.    The CF-1 should be filed with the County Clerk’s office before you circulate your nomination papers or expending any campaign funds. If you spend less than $2000 on your campaign, you are exempt form campaign finance reporting. — Personally, the most I ever spent on running for county board was about $200.  When I ran for county board the first time, I was relatively new to the Lodi area; so I had a small brochure prepared that provided a photo of myself, some background information about me, and a brief statement of my values.  

The next step and form is Form EL-169, the Nomination Paper for Non-partisan Office. This is the form that you will collect signatures from residents in your supervisory district.  Basically, you are asking individuals to request that your name appear on the ballot.  Your name, address, municipality , the position for which you are running, and district number appear at the top of the form.  There are spaces for 10 signatures on the form.  You can photocopy the form as many times as you wish.  How many signatures to collect?  In counties with population under 100,000 (Columbia County’s population is 58,490), you need to collect between 20-100 signatures.  You will want to collect a sufficient number such that if a signature is challenged, you will still have a sufficient number to have your candidacy approved.  Each time I ran for county board, I collected somewhere between 40-50 signatures.  For one election, I did have a couple signatures challenged.  I inadvertently had collected a couple of signatures from individuals that did not reside in my district.  Collecting signatures is actually a great way for you to introduce yourself to your neighbors (and potential constituents) and talk with them.  Find out what their concerns and issues are.  I also found many individuals who did not know they had a county supervisor nor what they do.  It can be an educational process all the way around!  The only down side is that signatures are do in the County Clerk’s office on January 4, 2022 which means you will be knocking on doors during holiday time and frequently inclement weather.  You can begin collecting signatures as soon as December 1, 2021.  As noted above, you should file the Campaign Registration Statement prior to collecting signatures. 

The next, and final form is EL-162, Declaration of Candidacy.  The point of the form is just as its title says, you are declaring your candidacy for office, affirming your address, and certifying that you meet or will meet age, citizenship, residency and voting qualifications at the time you potentially assume the office.  

IMPORTANT DATE.  All of these forms are due on January 4, 2022, at the County Clerk’s office, 112 East Edgewater St., Portage, WI.  This is the address of the County Administration Building.  If you have questions about the forms or the process for getting on the ballot, you should contact the County Clerk’s office, 608-742-9654 or email County.Clerk@co.columbia.wi.us.

The process for filing your candidacy is not terribly hard.  The fundamental requirement is your willingness and committment to serve your fellow citizens.  

As always, I am happy to talk with you about what I have experienced on the Columbia County Board as well as the process of running for office.  

Nancy Long

County Board Supervisor, District #27

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