Running for Office
By David Chapman
I remember it as if it were yesterday. I was attending one of the last Central Edmond Urban Board meetings of the year where I was simply a concerned Edmond Citizen. At the end of the meeting, our former Mayor Randal Shadid made a comment to members of the committee that there was going to be a very important election upcoming. He announced that Ward 1 City Councilwoman Victoria Caldwell had decided not to seek re-election. He went on to say that Ward 2 City Councilwoman Elizabeth Waner was also not seeking re-election. Long-time Mayor Charles Lamb had two opponents running against him as well.
Edmond City Council is made up of four council members and the mayor. Former Mayor Shadid presented a case that there was a possibility that three members out of five could be replaced and a special-interest group could see this as a prime opportunity to change the course of the City of Edmond.
I had never thought about running for public office. I was busy working as a tenured professor at the University of Central Oklahoma as well as running a local real estate brokerage and serving as an Oklahoma Real Estate Commissioner. I felt that contributing to REALTORS® Political Action Committee (RPAC) was the extent of my political involvement.
The following week, I started getting calls from local people asking me to consider running for the Ward 1 seat. I had been highly involved in real estate sales and land development in the downtown Edmond area and rumors of others running for office could curtail the momentum we had gained and, even worse, threaten property rights of Edmond citizens. As a REALTOR®, I had an understanding of the importance of smart development, property land use, and protection of property rights. Ultimately, this was what led to my decision to run for Ward 1 Edmond City Council.
There were three challenges that immediately caused me concern. The first was I had no idea how to run a campaign. The second was allocating the time necessary and the third was the amount of money it would take to run a successful campaign. Being a REALTOR® and part of one of the largest political organizations in the country turned out to be part of the solution to every challenge.
One of the first emails I received after announcing my candidacy was from Peggy Missel, the Association Executive for the Central Oklahoma Commercial Association of REALTORS® (COCAR) who attached an entire guide to running for office. It turns out that the National Association of REALTORS® publishes a guide for REALTORS® running for office. This guide provided the framework to run a successful campaign.
I was concerned about the amount of time that it would take to knock on doors, deliver talks to civic groups, put out signs, and other day-to-day activities involved in running the campaign. My concern turned out to be justified, but again my REALTOR® network proved to be a big benefit providing much of the labor needed to accomplish these tasks.
My largest concern was financial. Even local campaigns are expensive, and fundraising is the most important aspect of campaigns today. This is where my REALTOR® affiliation proved most valuable. I never had to worry about money once the campaign started. My fellow REALTORS®, home-builders and developers supported financially as individuals, the local Edmond Board of REALTORS® supported me with RPAC funds, and, unbeknownst to me, the National Association of REALTORS® was supporting me behind the scene.
I ended up winning the general election with nearly 75% of the vote, and took office May 6, 2019. It’s still early, but so far, my political experience has been positive, and I have been able to make an impact on local policy. I would encourage my REALTOR® colleagues to get involved and consider serving on local municipal boards and committees, and even running for office. It is an opportunity and obligation to protect and affect land-ownership policy and rights.
Dr. J. David Chapman is an Associate Professor of Finance & Real Estate at The University of Central Oklahoma, a member of the Central Oklahoma Commercial Association of REALTORS®, a current commissioner at the Oklahoma Real Estate Commission, and recently-elected Edmond City Councilor