New Website Identifies Public Office Opportunities in Jacksonville

Jun 14, 2016

Voting booths
Credit NicoleKlauss / Flickr

Launching a local political campaign just got a little easier. At least, that’s what a platform called RunForOffice.org is promising.

The site tracks open political offices, and shows users which contests they’re qualified to enter based on location. The service, run by startup company NationBuilder, expanded to Jacksonville this week.

Emily Schwartz, a vice president of parent company NationBuilder, said the site will empower aspiring politicians by giving them the tools to know just what is out there.

“Maybe you’re not ready to run for congress, but you could run for school board. Or there is something that has been driving you crazy about the park, and you could get on the parks and rec board, things like that,” she said. “There are ways to get involved, especially at the local level.”

According to the Pew Research Center, only about 2 percent of Americans have run for elected office. The majority of this 2 percent are white, well-educated men. Furthermore, according to a report by the College of William and Mary, about 40 percent of national seats go uncontested by the two major political parties.

RunForOffice.org aims to level the playing field by making election information available on one platform, something that Schwartz said has never before been done. She also hopes streamlining the process will encourage people to get involved in local democracy.

Although the site mainly works to identify possible opportunities, NationBuilder does offer fundraising, organizational, and educational tools for potential candidates to explore.

RunForOffice.org launched nationally in February, so there is no data available to show whether it has made an impact. Schwartz said they’re already covering about 46.2 million citizens nationwide, but future election cycles will likely offer more insight into how well this tool is functioning.