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How to become a WCC Trustee

Someone asked me the other day about the process for becoming a candidate for WCC Trustee. The process isn’t overly complicated, but it does require a little planning, and a little diligence.

The process starts at the county clerk’s office. If you are interested in becoming a WCC Trustee (or running for any other local office) the County Clerk’s office has a section on its website that explains the process in detail. I highly recommend reading that section, if you would like to become a candidate for office.

Everything about the process of running for WCC Trustee is managed at the county level. That includes everything from filing for the election to creating a candidate committee to filing campaign finance paperwork.

Seats on the WCC Board of Trustees open up every two years. The 2022 election deadlines have passed, but if you’re interested in becoming a Trustee, your next opportunity to do so will be in 2024. A community college trustee position is non-partisan, so it is (in theory) a non-political office. You are eligible to run for a seat on the WCC Board of Trustees if you are a “qualified elector.” That means you’re over the age of 18; you live in the Washtenaw Community College District; and you are registered to vote.

The Secretary of State publishes a calendar of all election deadlines in a year. The County Clerk will republish this calendar on the county’s website. This calendar will tell you when the filing deadline is to get your name on the ballot. The calendar is usually available in January. Pay careful attention to all deadlines.

Getting on the ballot as a WCC Trustee candidate

The filing process to get your name on the ballot starts by filing an Affidavit of Identity, which you can find on the County Clerk’s website. As a WCC Trustee candidate, you can pay a $100 fee in lieu of collecting signatures from registered voters on nominating petitions. The filing deadline for the November election is usually in July.

You will also need to establish a candidate committee, which involves more paperwork – also available on the County Clerk’s website. As part of the process, you will need to open a bank account to receive campaign contributions, even if you finance your own campaign. (Some banks don’t accept campaign accounts.)

Keep careful records of all contributions and campaign-related expenses. There are certain reports you may need to file at specific times before, during, and after the election. If your campaign expenditures are minimal, you can apply for a waiver that relieves you of most (but not all) reporting requirements. Be sure to file all your reports in a timely way. You can be fined if you miss reporting deadlines.

Plan your campaign

Once you have correctly completed and filed the requisite paperwork, you’ll be on the ballot. Take the time to read the campaign finance manual(s). This will help you understand the rules regarding fundraising and how you must handle and report campaign finances.

Campaigns for WCC Trustee seats are often low-key, but you’ll need to publicize your candidacy. Keep track of all your campaign expenditures for reporting purposes. Pay attention to local ordinances regarding the placement (and removal) of campaign signs. Find out what you can and cannot do at polling locations (if you plan to have campaign volunteers at the polls). Note all election-related deadlines, including when clerks will mail the absentee ballots. This may help you determine the best time to print and send mailings or buy advertising.

If you decide to run for a WCC Trustee seat in 2024, visit the County Clerk’s website well in advance of the election cycle. The Clerk’s office will have the most up-to-date information for prospective candidates.

Photo Credit: Mpls55408, via Flickr