Lessons from a first time primary elections candidate

Marlon Hill

From the day I returned from law school in 1995, I have sought to lend my talents where needed and welcomed in my Miami community. However, running for a non-partisan office and losing my race by 274 votes towards a runoff revealed some underlying lessons and observations that may guide the future of others seeking a similar path. Be mindful, these are unscientific notes, may be unsurprising to some already in the know, and casts no aspersions against any particular person or institution.

First, the decision to run should be a personal one and not solely that of the prodding of others around you. For years, I rebuffed the wishes of others. This is important for the authenticity of the message you intend to convey when you decide.

Second, the choice for political consultancy guidance, volunteer or paid, is key to picking a strategy and knowing when to stick with it or more importantly when to pivot. It is also important to avoid getting in your own way. Keep it moving. Always.

Third, all campaigns need money and resources. There are big and small dollars. I would take a bet with small donors any day along with and over the compliment of those who have the traditional ability of writing the legal maximum. Be sure to ask the secretary or clerk to donate as much as you would the owner of the business. Every dollar counts in building a base of resources for replenishment.

Fourth, be sure to knock on every door and make every phone call whether you may see evidence of D or R or I decorating the home. Voters want to hear from you and more importantly want to see how much you respect or value them. Put in the work.

Fifth, we still live in a community that remains frozen in feudal political legacies, familiarity or unfamiliarity of surnames, and ethnic compartmentalization that threatens our ability to solve big problems together. These political inhibitions may meet short term strategic wins, but will stunt our ability to see the big picture. You may choose any permutation within our complex metropolis, but as an example, Black candidates can lead Hispanic constituencies and vice versa. Period. Step out of any these bubbles, you may actually learn something new about yourself and your community.

Lastly, having lost a close race, it troubles me that we casually look past the thousands of uncounted vote by mail ballots due to either to delays in our postal system, procrastination on the part of voters, or the inability of legislators to find solutions to ensure that every vote is counted prior to certification. With a pandemic still upon us, we must rally to ensure that our electoral system and psyche are prepared to withstand the tsunami of vote by mail ballots from an anticipated contentious general election.

I encourage all voters and candidates to be mindful of these thoughts and to do your part in being open to ways in improving our civic landscape and being more vigilant in walking in your votes in a timely manner in support of those leaders you believe in. The time to prepare and plan is now.

Marlon Hill is Miami attorney with the law firm of Hamilton, Miller & Birthisel, LLP and was a first time candidate for the Miami-Dade County Commission.

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