HELENA – Campaign schools are scheduled in three Montana cities later this month to teach people considering running for state and local offices some skills needed to mount winning races.
Sponsors of the every-other-year campaign school said that others who might consider attending are campaign managers, fundraisers, volunteer coordinators, political party leaders and community activists. The schools are nonpartisan.
The agenda for the one-day schools in Missoula, Helena and Billings includes topics such as working with volunteers and communicating in campaigns, including using social media and talking with reporters. Speakers also will discuss fundraising, and campaign and finance laws.
Campaign professionals familiar with Montana’s political landscapes will speak at the schools.
Sponsoring the schools are the Montana Electric Cooperatives’ Association, Montana Credit Union Network, Montana Chamber of Commerce, Montana Association of Realtors, National Rural Electric Cooperative Association and Credit Union National Association.
The cost of attending the school is $35 per person, which includes lunch.
Here is the schedule and locations of the schools:
• Jan. 21, Missoula, at Missoula Federal Credit Union Training Center, 3600 Brooks.
• Jan. 22, Helena, at Great Northern Hotel, 835 Great Northern Blvd.
• Jan. 23, Billings, at Altana Federal Credit Union Training Center, 3212 Central Ave.
The schools begin with registration at 8:30 a.m. and sessions starting at 9 a.m.
Past schools drew praise from some officeholders.
“I’ve found them all to be helpful,” state Rep. Jesse O’Hara, R-Great Falls, said in a news release. “They just had a fair and common-sense approach that I think all candidates – Democrats or Republicans – could benefit from. ... I would highly, highly endorse it.”
Lewis and Clark County Sheriff Leo Dutton, a Democrat, said the nonpartisan school familiarized him with all the necessities of filing for office.
“There were all kinds of great information that dispelled any myths,” Dutton said. “I learned what I could do and what I couldn’t do – and what I needed to do. I came away with an education, and I felt confident in my ability to run an effective campaign after I intended.”
Gary Wiens, assistant general manager of the Montana Electric Cooperatives’ Association, said the schools are intended to encourage people to run for public office.
“If voters want better government, then they need choices when they cast their ballots, because good government doesn’t just happen,” Wiens said. “As President Franklin D. Roosevelt once said, ‘In politics, nothing happens by accident. If it happens, you can bet it was planned that way.’ ”
In 2012, campaign schools were sponsored in Billings, Bozeman, Great Falls and Missoula and drew a total crowd of 144 people, ranging from 20 in Bozeman to 44 in Billings.