Beyond "your money and your time..."

We are blessed with many great candidates (many of them female) running for competitive seats in Allegheny County this election cycle. Coming off of a primary where I knew some people running, I've been thinking about all of the different ways we can support candidates, not just their campaigns. Regardless of if candidates are single, married, otherwise partnered; renters, home owners; urban, suburban, or rural, they all need some help when election season gets crazy.

There is a lot of pressure for candidates to put their campaigns first, naturally. So when you ask a candidate how's it going, or what do you need from me, the answer she is going to give will most likely be about how the campaign is going, or how you can support the campaign. 

But sometimes, for a variety of reasons, people find that they can't support a campaign even though they want to support a candidate. Or they've already given all they can to a campaign in the typical ways, and they want to find something else to do. Regardless, candidates are often exhausted physically and emotionally (and maybe financially, because they can't pay themselves out of their campaign accounts) and they need help too even if they're reluctant to ask for it. So below is a list of ways YOU can hep a candidate survive their own campaign:

  • Clean her house/apartment or order a cleaning service to come by.
  • Do her laundry/find a wash and fold place/pick up and drop off dry cleaning (you know candidates are sweating through a lot of suits and dresses in the summer).
  • Buy some groceries. Ask if she has food allergies or restrictions. Focus on simple and healthy options for someone who doesn't have a lot of time and is eating on the road often (like fruit).
  • Set up a group to bring dinners over, like you would for a new mom or friend who needs some extra help. Lasagnas and casseroles, a roasted chicken, anything that will last for a few days and give her some leftover options. If you're a better baker than cook, bake some bread, muffins, or treats for the candidate.
  • Offer to do some lawn work. As Election Day gets closer, the leaves will be falling and she'll need to be out knocking door, not raking. 
  • If you sense her personal finances are taking a hit during the campaign, slip her gas cards, Starbucks cards, grocery store gift cards, etc.
  • Ask a candidate what THEY need (not their campaign) and listen closely for clues. Maybe they don't want to fully admit how much help they need, but if you offer up some suggestions they might crack ask for help picking up her kids from practice on Wednesday nights, baking for a school fundraiser she's signed up for, or who knows what else. 

Abigail Gardner

Scottie Public Affairs