The professors of the United Faculty of Miami Dade College hosted their annual Candidate’s Academy at Ronald W. Reagan Doral High School on May 12. The program began at 9 a.m. and concluded at 3:45 p.m. UFMDC president Mark Richard and UFMDC Legislative Director Ana Ciereszko presented the opening remarks after a complimentary breakfast for all the attendees.
The Candidate’s Academy aims to help local people who are running for elected offices, such as judicial positions and congressional districts, and hopes to attract honorable officials who desire to educate themselves on how to run for office honestly and effectively.
“We deserve better candidates than we have,” Richard said to the Sun Sentinel. “And yes, polling shows and anecdotal evidence shows that Americans aren’t quite sure we have the best politicians.”
The day’s schedule included multiple speakers who have experience in a variety of elements of the campaign process. Some topics of discussion consisted of advice on campaign communications, fundraising and finances, election and finance law and expectations for political leaders.
One speaker, Joe Falk, a campaign finance specialist, spoke realistically about the success rate of fundraising techniques, such as calling and door-to-door campaigning, that a candidate should expect. Falk stressed the tireless effort one must put into finding financial support for a campaign to ultimately achieve success.
“If you get 2 percent or 3 percent success amongst the cold group [that does not know who you are or does not affiliate with your party], that’s good; you should feel good about your campaign,” Falk said.
He also stressed the importance of reaching out to family and corporations for fundraising and contributions.
“If you can’t get at least 50 percent success with your family and friends, how do you expect other people to believe in you and give their money to your campaign?“ Falk said.
Miami-Dade Democratic Party Chair Juan Cuba encouraged the potential candidates to associate with one of the two major parties, because of the extensive support system, financially and publicly, that they will offer the candidate of their party. Even if the position is regional, the local party leaders will help the candidates of their party, especially since local parties will focus on assisting local candidates unlike the national party that focuses on national elections.
After lunch, David Smiley, a political reporter from the Miami Herald, spoke about the quality of candidates that run for office currently and the importance of new fresh candidates getting into the political conversation and action. He stated the significance of remaining honest and sincere in the process of promoting oneself.
The Academy informs candidates about the keys to success that an effective campaign has and empowers locals to run for an elected office and get into politics to serve their community and the country.