It’s still hard for me to believe, but just a few weeks ago I was elected to be the city councilor for Ward 6 of Oklahoma City. I still have until April 9 before I am sworn in and am grateful for this time to meet with city staff and prepare to take office. Over the past few weeks people have asked how we were successful, even though we started without much name recognition and were outraised. I believe we were successful not just because the issues I talked about during the campaign – improving public transportation, addressing affordable housing as well as making our city a friendlier place for people walking or biking – resonated with people in Ward 6 and across the city but also because our campaign did a few things that helped our chances from the start:

Started Early
Often, city council candidates in Oklahoma City have started campaigning in the fall or sometimes, after candidate filing only a few months before the primary election. I still wish I had started even earlier than I did, but having 8 months to fundraise, knock doors, as well as host and attend community events helped the chances that voters would not just recognize my name but be excited about supporting me when they went to the polls.

Connected with Experts
I am, admittedly, a political newcomer. I had never run for office before and while I paid attention to city, state, and federal government, I came into this election knowing very little about campaigning. I am grateful that I had relationships with some elected officials and candidates to ask advice and through that process, connected with a consulting firm I felt comfortable working with – Skyfire Media. They guided me through the particulars of fundraising, hosting volunteer events, and the ever important activity of knocking doors.

Asked For Support
Like many, I have difficulty asking others for help. I’m usually content to put my head down and figure out how to get a job done on my own, even when I feel like I’m floundering. That just isn’t possible in the process of running for elected office – whether it’s donations or volunteer support, I had to learn to step out of my comfort zone of trying to accomplish something all on my own and ask for support from others. In the long run, I learned that doesn’t only activate a network of people who then get others involved, but also gave me an opportunity to meet new people with shared values and make connections in the community I otherwise might not have had.

Knocked Doors
To be quite honest, this was one aspect of campaigning I was initially dreading. I identify as an introvert, so the idea of going to a stranger’s door, opening myself up to whatever conversation that might bring, and then asking for that person’s support sounded horrible. However, early on, I realized the power of knocking doors. Not only did I learn that I loved it because there was little to no “small talk” involved – many of the people I talked with jumped right to the issues that mattered most to them. I was also amazed at how often people would share with me that they’d never had a candidate for municipal office knock on their door before. I attribute much of our campaign’s success to knocking doors – connecting with people on their porches not only showed those voters that I wanted to hear from them, but it taught me more about the issues that people cared about than I ever could have guessed when I started running.

JoBeth Hamon was recently elected to Oklahoma City Council Ward 6. She graduated from Oklahoma Baptist University, where she received her degree in Family & Community Services. JoBeth believes in the power of community and connection to create positive change.