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How to Run for Mayor in San Francisco, California

3 min read
San Francisco
Good Party Politics Team · Nov 3, 2023

Embarking on a journey to become Mayor is a significant move towards creating positive change in San Francisco, California. What does it take to campaign for this role? This candidate guide will delve into the crucial aspects and prerequisites for running for the Mayoral seat in San Francisco, along with advice for initiating a successful local campaign.

Understanding the Role of Mayor

Before you throw your hat in the ring for any political seat, it's crucial to grasp the duties that come with it. Some public offices carry more weight than others, and similarly, some roles demand more time commitment.

Quick insights about the Mayor's role:

  • What tasks does a Mayor handle? The Mayor acts as the chief executive of the city, often leading council meetings and having the authority to appoint or dismiss department heads.

  • Is the City Mayor a local, state, or federal role? The City Mayor is a city-level elected official.

  • Is the Mayor's position influenced by party politics? The Mayor's role is a nonpartisan elected position.

  • Is being Mayor a full-time commitment? Holding the Mayor's office is considered a full-time role.

Grasping these foundational points about the position you're aiming for is a solid first step in deciding if you're up for the challenge. Further insights into the role can be gained by studying the actions of current and former Mayors. What have been their main focuses? How have they allocated their time while in office? What changes or impacts have they brought to the community? Pondering such questions will help you step into their shoes and picture your potential political journey.

Qualifications to Run for City Mayor

Before setting your sights on the upcoming San Francisco Municipal Election, ensure you're eligible to run. Most elected roles in the U.S. have certain criteria, and the San Francisco City Mayor is no exception. Here's what you need to run for Mayor in San Francisco:

  • Each candidate must be a resident and registered voter in San Francisco when nomination papers are issued and must maintain this status throughout their term.

After confirming you meet these criteria, you'll also want to fulfill all filing obligations. Many roles require securing a number of signatures from the community's registered voters. Keep an eye out for these filing essentials:

  • Filing Fee: $2,000 or two percent of the annual salary for the office, whichever is greater. 

  • Signature Requirement: 20 to 30 voters in cities with 1,000 or more registered voters, and 5 to 10 voters in cities with fewer than 1,000 registered voters, but only one candidate can be named on any one nomination paper.

  • The paperwork should be submitted to the Director of Elections' office at 1 Dr Carlton B Goodlett Pl, San Francisco, CA 94102. You can reach them at 415-554-4375.

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How the City Mayor Is Elected

As you mull over a run for office, dig into the specifics of when and how the election occurs. Here's a primer:

  • When's the next election? The City Mayor will be on the ballot during the San Francisco Municipal Election on November 5, 2024.

  • How frequently does the election take place? The City Mayor is typically elected every four years.

  • What other positions are voters choosing during the same election? Other offices up for grabs will be listed on your local government's website.

Steps to Run for Mayor in San Francisco

After deciding to run for mayor, confirming your eligibility, and understanding the election process, what's next? Launching a campaign is complex, but Good Party’s AI Campaign Manager is on hand to simplify it.

#1: Understand Your Community’s Needs and Context

Before crafting your campaign strategy, get to know the past and present of your potential constituents. Taking time to research and listen to your community will benefit you during both the campaign and your tenure as mayor.

Consider these questions about San Francisco:

  • What demographic groups make up your community? Look at age, race, gender, income, religion, and education.

  • What's the voting history of San Francisco? Examine past voter registration and turnout, and see which way the political winds have blown.

  • What's troubling the community? Identify pressing issues and how they've been handled previously.

Key issues to explore might include:

  • The cost and availability of housing

  • The state of public transport and infrastructure

  • Environmental and climate concerns

  • Safety and relations with law enforcement

The AI Campaign Manager can use detailed voter data to help you pinpoint these critical issues.

#2: Create a Detailed Campaign Plan

Knowing your voters, it's time to draft a campaign blueprint. This involves forming a team and mapping out voter contact strategies. The AI Campaign Manager offers guidance for assembling a team and starting your outreach.

#3: Complete All Filing Requirements

Though less glamorous, filing for office is a vital campaign step. Filing includes gathering voter signatures and managing campaign finances.

Good Party’s AI Campaign Manager can guide you through campaign finance setup, including IRS filings, opening a campaign bank account, and meeting regulatory requirements.

#4: Develop Effective Campaign Messaging

Crafting compelling messages is crucial early in your campaign. It clarifies your identity, motives, and goals to voters, boosting campaign recognition.

The AI Campaign Manager excels at creating impactful messages and campaign content, from policy statements to content for social media posts.

#5: Build a Strong Online Presence

In today's digital world, voters will likely look you up online when deciding whether or not to vote for you. Ensure they find a well-crafted campaign website, active social media profiles, and trustworthy media coverage.

The AI Campaign Manager can help you create an online footprint, from website outlines to press releases.

#6: Engage in Voter Outreach

Connecting with voters is essential. It's about making sure they know you, your platform, and why you're the better choice for mayor. The AI Campaign Manager can help you track these efforts throughout your campaign.

#7: Mobilize Volunteers in Support of Your Campaign

A robust campaign requires a dedicated team and network of volunteers. Good Party certified candidates gain access to a nationwide network of volunteers ready to support your campaign through various outreach efforts, such as phone banking and text banking.

#8: Get Out the Vote

The level of voter participation can make or break local elections. It's crucial to motivate your supporters to vote, especially those who may be voting for the first time or who haven't registered to vote yet. Good Party's campaign tools provide expert guidance for the get-out-the-vote (GOTV) process.

Reasons to Run for City Mayor

Why step into the race for City Mayor? Here are a few compelling reasons:

  • Representing your community allows you to hear residents' concerns and seek impactful solutions.

  • Advocating for critical local issues gives you a platform to push for change on matters close to your heart.

  • Providing voters with more options enriches the democratic process, challenging incumbents and bringing fresh perspectives.

  • Campaigning fosters personal growth, enhancing leadership skills and community engagement, which are valuable for any future political aspirations.

Running for Mayor is a profound way to serve your community and enhance democratic governance.

Resources to Help You Run for Mayor

If you're ready to campaign for City Mayor, Good Party is ready to stand with you every step of the way, from initial decision-making all the way to election day. We back independent and nonpartisan candidates nationwide. Reach out to discover how Good Party's complimentary tools and support can boost your campaign for Mayor in San Francisco.

To become part of Good Party's growing community and connect with other independent candidates, you can also join Good Party's Discord server.

Photo by JD Gipson on Unsplash

Planning a run for office?

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How to Run for Office
San Francisco
By Good Party Politics Team
The politics team is focused on transforming the political landscape by promoting transparency, accountability, and positive change. They aim to engage citizens in the political process, encourage informed decision-making, and support candidates who prioritize the common good. Their mission revolves around creating a more fair and just political system, fostering collaboration, and breaking down traditional barriers of partisanship.