Political Science and Liberal Arts Education in District of Columbia
Everyone knows the District of Columbia (or better known as Washington D.C.) is a political Mecca for the United States. Many politicians aspire to make D.C. the end target of their political career. For the student contemplating how to accomplish that, the road to becoming a politician in the District of Columbia is twofold.
Washington D.C. is a federal territory housing federal politicians presiding over the country, as well as locally elected politicians presiding over the city with oversight from Congress, and D.C. representatives acting at the federal level. Entering politics in the District of Columbia means your first step may likely begin at the local level.
Council members are the primary policy-makers for the District of Columbia (although ultimate authority rests with U.S. Congress who has the power to overturn the Council’s decisions). There are currently thirteen seats on the council in D.C. as well as the office of Mayor. There are also District of Columbia State Board of Education representatives as well. These are all elected positions, requiring the public to vote a candidate into office.
How to become a Politician in Washington DC
Aspiring to become a local politician in the District of Columbia requires a candidate hopeful to follow the rules set forth by the District of Columbia Board of Elections and Ethics (DCBOEE). These rules include age requirements, character qualifications, ballot petition signature minimums, and residency and registered voter status. A particular education or degree is not a requirement, however, it is something that the voting public may demand in order to feel confident in a candidates qualifications.
On the federal level in the District of Columbia, there are two Shadow U.S. Senators, one Shadow U.S. Representative, and one Delegate to the U.S. House of Representatives. The District of Columbia Delegate has authority to represent D.C., while Congress does not recognize the other congressional members.
The positions of U.S. Senators, and U.S. Representative are a little unusual when compared to states in the United States. Because The District of Columbia is not currently recognized as a separate state, these positions are unique. The Shadow positions have no voting authority in Congress. Their efforts are primarily lobbying for statehood for The District of Columbia.
As of 2011, the two Senators listed by the DCBOEE are Michael D. Brown and Paul Strauss. Mike Panetta is listed as the current U.S. Representative and Eleanor Holmes Norton is the Delegate to the U.S. House of Representatives.
Requirements to become a Delegate to the House of Representatives, or a member of Congress are provided for in the US Constitution. Two requirements for Delegate obligate the candidate to be at least twenty-four years old, and been a citizen of the U.S. for seven years. The District of Columbia requires candidates receive a majority of popular votes according to U.S. House of Representatives Office of the Clerk. Seeking these positions also holds certain requirements as laid out in detail on the DCBOEE website. (http://www.dcboee.org/candidate_info/general_info/
As with any political position, the best preparation is an education that will afford a hopeful candidate with the necessary skills and knowledge needed to fill the position. Other preparations include fieldwork in lower level government positions where a person will gain first-hand experience with the inner-workings of the political process. This may be a paid position, or a volunteer job. Great places to begin a political career are positions as staff interns in a current candidate’s election. It is here that a student will get an up-close view of what it takes to get elected. It will also allow the student to begin making friends and getting to know others who may help them once they seek to run for office.