Have you ever wondered what it takes to run for political office or maybe work on a campaign? Well there's a course in Syracuse that starts next month and teaches some of the basic building blocks of political campaigns. Our Katie Gibas spoke with program leaders and graduates about the Political Leadership Institute that helped them build a foundation in politics.
SYRACUSE, N.Y. -- Lisa Dell is the Lysander Town Clerk. The first time she ran for political office, it was a bit overwhelming.
"I was working an extra four hours a day on top of my full time job and eight to 10 hours on the weekend. It's a big time commitment when you run for office," said Dell.
One of the most challenging aspects, aside from her opponent, was being new to politics and not knowing where to start. This year, she is considering running for re-election. But now, she has the help of the Central New York Political Leadership Institute.
"PLI makes people aware of the political process and what goes on and what it entails. It's not just going out there and getting your name out and hopefully people will vote for you," said Dell.
For the last four years, PLI has held an eight week course that teaches everything from getting on committees to campaign financing to effectively using social media. It was started in an effort to get more people to run for office. About 60 percent of the races in Onondaga County in the last election didn't have any challengers.
"The more people you have involved in the process, the more ideas you get at the table, the better. That's really what this is about. This is about engagement and involvement. And trying to get people who want to do it and have the desire to do it to do it and give them the information they need to get started," said Kevin Tampone, the CNY Political Leadership Institute Advisory Committee Chairman.
Mark Mangicaro has worked on several political campaigns for local officials. He went through the program in 2011.
"It's intimidating, so it helps get that process down to earth, understand what you have to do and why it's important. It really helped me understand what needed to be done, and not wondering if I'm missing things along the way," said Mangicaro.
Graduates say the non-partisan program is an essential element for anyone running for office or working on a campaign.
It's not too late to put yourself in a political race for next year. The Political Leadership Institute is training candidates and campaign workers this spring. The group is holding a free information session Wednesday, January 23rd at 6 p.m. at the Double Tree in Carrier Circle.