Town residents hear tips on how to run for council

STRASBURG – Local residents received a primer this week on how to run for public office in town.

More than a dozen people attended Monday’s public forum led by Town Councilman Scott Terndrup. Whether anyone in the audience plans to run for a seat on council or for mayor in May remains uncertain.

Seats held by Council members Robert B. “Bob” Baker, Jocelyn Vena, Richard Orndorff Jr. and Richard Redmon are up for re-election. Mayor Timothy Taylor’s seat also is up for re-election.

Terndrup also used the opportunity to let people know about the need for participation on the town’s committees and boards.

“We just kind of wanted to get the word out about maybe bridging the gap about what it is actually like to go from your seat as a citizen to a seat up there as being elected to serve the people of this community,” Terndrup said. “At times it may be intimidating and so the hope was that information might encourage people to say ‘hey, this might be something that we’d be interested in.'”

Anyone interested in running for town council or mayor must pick up the necessary petition forms from the voter registration office after Jan. 1 in years with a May election. A potential candidate must obtain 125 signatures of voters registered in the town and return the petitions to the registrar by March, Terndrup explained. However, it helps to collect at least 150 signatures in case some do not qualify, Terndrup said.

Terndrup, whose seat is not up for re-election this year, offered advice on how to collect signatures. Terndrup said he divided the town into four areas and then picked neighborhoods in each to contact. Candidates can also buy a list of registered voters. Terndrup said he worked alone so he could meet as many households as possible. The councilman said Saturdays from late morning through the afternoon worked best. He said he tries to collect 25 signatures each time and recommended attending local events, church functions, town meetings and other gatherings likely to draw people.

Candidates are notified in March if they will appear on the ballot and the campaigns begin. Candidates must disclose funding if they buy signs or advertise in the newspaper, Terndrup said.

Candidates should prepare to spend Election Day at the polls, to sit and talk to voters and to their potential colleagues, Terndrup said.

Winners will be sworn in within weeks of the election. Their first meeting will be the second Tuesday in July.

The town and council also seek people to serve on its committees and boards. Council appoints members to the Planning Commission and the Architectural Review Board to four-year terms. The Planning Commission maintains the Unified Development Ordinance. Terndrup warned the commission’s work is detail and process oriented. The Architectural Review Board administers the provisions of the historic district ordinance.

The Circuit Court appoints members to the Board of Zoning Appeals as recommended by council.

Contact staff writer Alex Bridges at 540-465-5137 ext. 125, or abridges@nvdaily.com