It seems that getting residents to run for local government elected office is becoming more and more difficult. Civic duty is no longer a priority for those who really could help improve and grow their community. Many times, current officials have to reach out to potential candidates on their own in an attempt to convince them that being an elected official is a worthwhile endeavor to serve the community – thankless, sure, but essential to keep a community running smoothly.
Often, members of the public don’t get interested in running for local office unless there is an issue that personally affects them. Unfortunately, the attitude is that “unless it’s in my backyard, I’m not interested in being involved.” This has encouraged those who normally wouldn’t consider such an option to step up to the podium as newly elected officials.
Sometimes, the ones who are closest to municipal government are those who work in it. That may explain why it’s not uncommon for municipal employees to run for office. In Pennsylvania, municipal employees are allowed to run for office, provided they meet specific requirements. The employee may have to resign from their position before filing a nomination petition and must not use their position to influence the election. Additionally, the employee must not use public resources for their campaign. The employee must also comply with the Pennsylvania Election Code, which includes filing a Statement of Financial Interests with the Pennsylvania State Ethics Commission. This statement must be filed within ten days of filing the nomination.
If you’re employed by a municipality and want to run for local office, be sure to avoid conflicts of interest that can occur when your personal interests, family, friendships, financial, or social factors could compromise your judgment, decisions, or actions in the workplace. The Pennsylvania Ethics Committee takes conflicts of interest very seriously and oversees possible violations. A Pennsylvania Township supervisor should not participate in any decision-making process that could benefit them or their family with pecuniary gain. They should also not accept gifts or favors from any person or organization that could be perceived as a conflict of interest. Additionally, they should not use their position to influence any decision that could benefit them or their family. Finally, they should not use their position to gain access to confidential information or resources.
If you are currently employed in local government and considering running for elected office in the same municipality, you must take all of these factors into consideration prior to actively seeking to hold office. Remember that if you can continue your current status as a municipal employee, you will effectively become your “boss's boss.”. As mentioned before, I would strongly recommend you seek qualified legal advice in order to ensure proper adherence to the rules and regulations. If you desire to "fire this thing up" and run for office, I applaud your efforts, as we always need quality candidates to keep our local government moving forward.