Mayor tells students how to run for office

DAN DOUCET, Evergreen opinion editor

With three Pullman City Council positions available in the November election, the Pullman mayor and a city council member sat down with students to discuss how they can run for public office.

Mayor Glenn Johnson said there is a position available to represent each of the three wards in Pullman. While Fritz Hughes of Ward 2 is not planning to run for re-election, both Al Sorensen of Ward 1 and Jeff Hawbaker of Ward 3 are.

“Does that mean it’s going to be an insurmountable task? No,” Johnson said. “I think anytime you’re running for an election, anybody is up for grabs.”

There have been a number of WSU students who have run for and served in council positions, Johnson said. He said students interested in running should be looking to stick around and put a few years into the position because of the learning curve involved.

“Ideally, the person that wants to run for a city council position should not just be one that wants to pad their resume,” Johnson said.

While the city supervisor runs the city and the mayor acts like the city’s CEO, it is up to city council members to establish policy. Any person running for a position should be aware that public officials do not have privacy, Johnson said. Citizens can request public records on council members about anything from their cell phone communications to their financial backgrounds, he said.

“So just know, and that’s one of the things we try to train everybody, that you’re now in a different sphere,” Johnson said.

Nathan Weller, a current Pullman City Council member for Ward 2, said that not only having a strong social media presence, but also making face-to-face connections is important when gathering supporters.

“Much of our public want to see the people knocking on their door,” Weller said.

The first public office Weller ran for was county commissioner. He said his campaign team consisted of his friends and family, who put in time during late nights, after work and on weekends to create their own campaign materials, knock on doors and make phone calls. Weller said he did not end up winning that race, but later ran for city council, which he did win.

“As long as you have a real passion to do it, you can do it,” Weller said.

It’s important that anyone running for a position checks with the Pullman City Clerk to see which ward they reside in, Johnson said. Potential candidates must be at least 18 years old and have resided in Pullman for at least one year. The salary for city council members is $550 per month. Those who want to run must pay one percent of their salary in order to file for candidacy, Johnson said.

Those who are interested in running for a position can find more information and resources on the Association of Washington Cities website.