Running for Public Office, Windsor Locks Parks Commissioner

Sep 29, 2016

Scott Nolan is a native of Windsor Locks, Connecticut graduating from Windsor Locks High School, before going on to earn a Bachelor of Arts degree in Political Science from Eastern Connecticut State University. Scott has served on the Non-Profit Board of Directors for the Covenant Soup Kitchen in Willimantic, Connecticut as Vice Chair from 2010-2012.

Currently, Scott is working on a Master of Science degree in Counseling Education, with Specialization in Student Development for Higher Education at Central Connecticut State University. Scott serves as Parks Commissioner for the Town of Windsor Locks where he also serves on the Town Democratic Committee. HYPEster Amanda Trothier interviewed Scott for HYPE's public office blog series. The series focuses on interviewing public officials from different towns in which HYPE members may be interested in running for public office. One of our goals is to provide assistance by offering someone for members to reach out to.

What made you want to run for office?

I have always been a fierce advocate for issues regarding civic engagement, social justice and equality, along with a commitment to being a fierce advocate for people. I wanted to be involved in my hometown community of Windsor Locks, CT and give back to the special community that I had grown up around. I was fortunate enough to have the opportunity to engage my peers at a young age throughout my public schooling career and often be involved in the planning process by getting involved in many after school activities. I attribute much of my passion for public service to my years in high school, as I lead the graduating class of 2008 as their class president. Through this experience I learned to love not only representing my peers but, advocating for them. After high school, I went on to be a very active member of the Eastern Connecticut State University community located in Willimantic, CT. While at Eastern I was involved with a number of activities, including being an effective member of the Student Government Association, serving on the Board of Directors for a local non-profit in the Willimantic area, and while in my junior and senior year at Eastern, was elected by my peers to serve on the Board of Trustees for the Connecticut State University System, as their student representative. Over the course of my tenure at Eastern, I learned much about civic engagement and social responsibility, and often had an opportunity to advocate for my peers and campus community through a number of activities and venues. After graduating from Eastern in 2012, I decided to continue to pursue my passion for advocating for people, issues on social justice, community engagement, and be a part of progressive, positive change for my community. 

How far in advance did you choose to run?

I made my decision to run in April 2015, which gave me plenty of time to begin strategizing and working on my campaign. This allowed me an opportunity to begin networking with key individuals in town and begin designing campaign materials to have a thought-out strategy. I also began reviewing essential issues concerning our parks and public spaces for the town of Windsor Locks, which included making sure I had visited each site, and gone back through old minutes so I could effectively communicate what I believe the issues were and where change may be needed.

What are three tips you have for getting elected?

Make connections! As that doesn’t sound obvious enough, making connections and networking with strategic and influential people in your local community is crucial to winning any election. In the political arena, being able to use your connections will not only go a long way in making you successful, but, will make your time in public service more rewarding as a candidate who can get the job done, and done well! It is important to remember that no one gets where they are without the help of others, which leads to my next tip...

First and foremost- people come first! It is important to remember that without people you wouldn’t hold public office, and that you are responsible for advocating for people, including ones that may have a difference of opinion. Often, in my opinion, it is not about who is right or wrong, but, that both sides of the argument have an opportunity to make their case, and that both sides can be assessed, so that facts can come to light in order to best find a resolve to an issue.

My third tip is to market yourself. It is important to market yourself as you truly are, so that people know who you are and what you believe in. I believe this goes farther than marketing on social media and campaign fliers, but, to ensure that no matter where you are or what you may be doing that you are displaying to others your true self. In my everyday life, I strive to lead with my best foot forward, stay humble and kind, while working hard to achieve my own, academic, personal, and career aspirations for my future.

What have you found to be the most important actions that you took or activities that you engaged in during the years leading up to your campaign that laid the foundation for you to be able to run for office?

Laying a foundation leading up to making the decision to run for office is the fundamental to success. In my own life, I have been involved in my community over many years which has allowed me the opportunity to welcome new people and let people know what kind of a person I am. It is important to note that this foundation does not happen overnight, but, is something rather that is earned over the course of several years as you interact and engage with members of your community. With that being said, staying active in your community and visible at town functions and local events is very important to laying down a strong foundation and which will make you a great candidate for any local office position! In order for you to be successful, not only will you need to be involved, but you need to have an opinion.  

How have you leveraged social media while running for office, and now holding office? What have you found to be effective that you would recommend to others?

Social media in my opinion was an influential part of my campaign while running for office. I would highly recommend utilizing instrumental social media marketing strategies and would not only recommend it to others, but argue, that a poor social media campaign could cost you at the polls. However, before you begin a social media campaign, it is also vital to think about the demographics of the population you are trying to reach, and how often you should reach out to your constituents. While it seems that everyone now is logged on to social media in some way or another, it is crucial to ensure that perspective candidates do not lose the face to face interactions with voters. I personally believe in a combination of both social media, face to face interactions, and speaking with voters over the phone and allowing them an opportunity to present you with issues that are important to them. People need to feel heard, they need to know that someone cares about their struggles and that someone will help advocate for them.

Why is it important for more young professionals to run for office and be more civically engaged?

It is important for young professionals to run for office and be civically engaged because of the fact that systemic change does not happen overnight. The paradox of our age is that not only are we young, but we are educated and see the world in a different light than our older counterparts. The world has changed drastically over the last several decades and with new technological advances, young people have been empowered more than ever for systematic change.

What public offices would you recommend young professionals run for?

In my opinion it isn’t about which office you run for, it’s how you do it. It is important for young professionals to get experience first, before running for public office. What does this mean? This means knowing the rules of order during meetings. This means knowing how and when to make effective motions, understanding parliamentary procedure, understanding the history and mission of the public office you are interested in running for. Be knowledgeable about the hierarchy of local government and familiarize yourself with State Statues.

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