A Saturday forum in Key West on how to win local elections included campaign trail tips, fundraising ideas and a few laughs.
“A newborn can give you money — take it!” Joyce Griffin, Monroe County supervisor of elections, said during a presentation on campaign finance.
“Smile,” said Ed Swift, business owner and a former county commissioner. Swift also told the crowd, gathered at the Key West Marriott Beachside Hotel, 3841 N. Roosevelt Blvd., not to be shy in asking people for campaign money.
The civic group Hometown! organized the event, which was emceed by Todd German.
“Don’t ask for 10 bucks, ask for 500 bucks if you think they are going to give you 100,” Swift said. “If you can’t ask for money, don’t run.”
Speakers included Key West City Commissioner Sam Kaufman, Monroe County School Board member Bobby Highsmith, Clerk of the Court Kevin Madok and County Commissioner Heather Carruthers, who spoke about branding during political campaigns.
Kaufman said he knocked on nearly every door in his district when he was running for commissioner.
“People appreciate it when you come to their door,” Kaufman said. “A lot of people had nothign to say. They just said, ‘Thank you for stopping by.’ ”
If a candidate’s choice is attending a meeting or walking door to door, get out and walk the neighborhoods, Kaufman said.
Highsmith, an attorney and Key West native, said he is relatively “thin-skinned” and learned a great deal during the campaign.
“It’s the most incredible rollercoaster ride you’ll ever go on,” Highsmith said. “This has been the most incredible experience of my life.”
Hometown! will host a “call for candidates” April 16 at the Salute! On the Beach restaurant at Higgs Beach in Key West starting at 5 p.m. Anyone interested in running for office can attend and introduce themselves to the public.
Gwen Filosa: @KeyWestGwen