33 Votes: A Guest Post

Note: This week’s pep talk is courtesy of Lisa Ryan, who I met in the raw months after the 2016 election at a meeting with our U.S. Senator (back when he hosted such things).

Lisa is as a busy as they come (I’ll let her explain) but that hasn’t stopped her from contributing mightily, most recently in local elections.

I know how hard it is to stay involved and engaged when you’re busy – and that sometimes it feels like your contributions don’t make a dent. Well, Lisa has some great experience on both of those topics. So I asked her to share that with you. I know you’ll love it. ~Michele

I’ve always heard that local elections matter. 

School board elections are probably as local as they get. These individuals represent the community on questions of public education. They guide our schools by setting budgets, hiring superintendents, and establishing policies. They approve teacher and vendor contracts and set a vision for the district. 

Our school board is supposed to work with the best interests of the students in mind.  Essentially, they oversee my kid’s education. 

So yeah, that matters. 

I have been paying attention and helping with my local school board race for the last 5 cycles. I work with a group of volunteers to elect school board members who support public education, care about diversity and inclusivity and want every child in our district to succeed. 

To date, all our supported candidates have had successful campaigns.  

As nonpartisan positions, school board elections are typically held in the Spring with candidates filing about 4 months earlier. Once filing is complete, we get to work. 

First, as group leaders, we identify the candidates we will support. We do this by creating and distributing a questionnaire to each applicant. Based on the responses, we select our top candidates and conduct in person (or zoom) interviews. 

Our goal is to select as many candidates to support as there are open seats, in this case two. Our ideal candidate will not only reflect our progressive values but will also recognize the great things about our district as well as the areas we can improve. 

We want a candidate who is well spoken, who thinks critically and who truly wants the best for all students. We are looking for a candidate who will represent the diversity of our students. 

We are looking for a candidate that we can get elected.  

Once our candidates have been selected, the announcement is made to the larger volunteer group and the campaigning starts. 

Over the years, I have played different campaign roles based on what is needed. Several years ago, I created a successful postcard campaign for our candidates which not only involved local efforts in our district but also partnered nationally with Postcards to Voters. 

In other elections, I helped to map out canvassing routes, generated Facebook content and campaign statements. I have helped to create general campaign strategies as well as get out the vote efforts. 

We have other volunteers who will deliver yard signs, perform lit drops and act as social media advocates. We all work to get out the vote and there is a role for everybody.  

For the election cycle that just ended, I worked behind the scenes with one of our candidates as his campaign manager. Among other things, I ran his candidate Facebook page, helped him to clarify his policy positions, secured some endorsements, advised on strategy, acted as a liaison with our group’s other supported candidate, and I kept an eye on the opposition. 

Finally, I worked to get out the vote.  I tweeted, and I posted on Facebook. I messaged or texted everyone I knew in our district. I planted signs in my neighbor’s yards. I worked the school board election into every conversation I could. 

On election day, both of our supported candidates won seats on the board. 

My candidate won his seat by 33 votes. 

Those 33 votes, that was me. That was us. That was our group. That was every person who made the decision to get involved and make a difference.  

We all are busy. I’m no exception. 

I am a full-time pediatrician with a husband and three kids. I don’t have any formal campaign training. 

Much of my campaign work was done between patients, during lunch, or early in the morning before my day started. 

It was done from the grocery check-out line, or from a track meet or baseball game. We all make the time for things that matter. 

To me, and to my family, this matters.    


Let’s get to work.

Actions for the Week of April 19, 2022

Two Messaging Events

Many folks are worried about messaging for the midterms – and I can relate. But there are also lots of folks working on that very issue. SO:

Do I have some resources!

First, TODAY Tuesday, April 19th, at 5 PM Pacific / 8 PM Eastern, join “Say What? Political Messaging for Getting Out the Vote”. Led by Donald Lathbury, Communications Director and Strategist for Activate America, the team has assembled a very informative presentation on political messaging, including debates among prominent Democratic messengers and research that informs our approach to postcarding, phone banks, canvassing, and much more.

RSVP here: https://us02web.zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_kn4moDHaS3idPqIln9ru0w?sourceid=1041199&utm_medium=emailblast&emci=228f74f9-80bf-ec11-997e-281878b83d8a&emdi=a9d30b84-81bf-ec11-997e-281878b83d8a&ceid=5756559

(Hat tip to Jessica Craven, who you should subscribe to here: https://chopwoodcarrywaterdailyactions.substack.com/)

Second: Ready for a no-holds-barred campaign that names and shames anti-democracy forces—while proudly lifting up our progressive values?

Longing to join others in taking back our national story?

Join Grassroots Messaging Works on Wednesday, April 20, for a special activist preview of their ready-to-launch national campaign: The Choice in ’22: Team Coup vs. Team YOU.

Come hear the research, watch the 4-minute video, and see the concepts. Come away with specific actions that YOU can take from home, right in your own community, using simple social media tools to amplify GMW’s powerful message.

Wednesday April 20 at 7:00 pm ET / 4:00 pm PT. Pre-register here.

Field Secrets Your Opponent Doesn’t Want You to Know

Are you going to help some local candidates this cycle? Are you running for office? Then pull up a chair for a Q&A with National Democratic Training Committee’s founder Kelly Dietrich.

I know Kelly personally – we met at a progressive conference in Chicago a few years ago. He’s both incredibly knowledgeable and an all-around great person. NDTC has loads of free virtual training, and I highly encourage you to check out their offerings.

Elections are won and lost in the field, but you might be wondering how you can out-field your opponent. A strong field plan will go a long way in not only engaging voters for support, but recruiting volunteers, fundraising, and more. 

Join Kelly to learn exclusive tips and tricks to maximize your field game. Bring questions from your own experiences and get them answered in this special Q&A.

A recommended (not required) course to take in our Online Academy is “Intro to Field.”

This document gives you tips for what to do before, during, and after a Kelly Q&A to get the most out of the event.

Blue Ohio Launch!

Are you an Ohioan? Maybe you have family or friends there, or were born there? Or maybe you just care about Ohio because it’s gone a little crazytown with gerrymandering and a completely bonkers Senate race. (Yikes!) Then this one’s for you:

On Thursday evening and Friday afternoon I’ll be joining David Pepper to launch an awesome joint project. By now you may already know about David – he’s the former OH state party chair and author of Laboratories of Autocracy.

This week we’re launching a project that will both inform and engage the grassroots community – and make sure every Democratic nominee for Ohio state legislature gets some much-needed support. It’s an extension of the project I’ve been working on in Missouri for some time now, and we’re excited to be expanding.

The town halls will be really fun – we’ve got some great Ohio guests who are going to join and talk about just how transformational this kind of project could be for Ohio. Here are the zoom registration links to join!

Thursday, April 21 at 8pm eastern click HERE.

Friday April 22 at noon eastern click HERE.


P.S.: Why don’t you make someone’s day and send this pep talk to a friend or two? I bet they need it.

If you’d like to sign up to get this pep talk and action list in your in-box each week, you can do that here. Welcome, friend!

P.P.S.: If you want to help support this work you can do so via Patreon at
https://www.patreon.com/smalldeedsdone or via paypal at https://www.paypal.me/smalldeeds
My deepest gratitude in advance.

Thank you for reading. Thank you for writing. I read and respond to every email! We’re in this together. Don’t you forget it.

Have a thought? A small deed to suggest? Share it here!

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