In this article, the Virginia Society of Architects speaks with Newport News School Board member Jeff Stodghill, AIA and Virginia Delegate Glenn Oder, ASLA about their experiences campaigning for public office. To all those CCL members who have run for public office - did you think your architectural background was a particular asset in your campaign? What is your advice to those thinking about running for office for the first time? What can AIA National and the CCL do to help architects navigate an entry into politics and campaigning?
Truth in Campaigning: Design Professionals and Campaigns
By the Virginia Society of Architects
As the AIA Citizen Architect program and the Center for Civic leadership both stress, there are many ways for architects to serve their communities. Many architects begin their civic engagement through volunteering, sitting on non-profit boards, or serving on local government advisory boards. For some, the next step in serving the community is to run for elected office, a process which can be confusing and intimidating, especially to the politically uninitiated.
The transition from designing buildings to designing campaign plans is not necessarily as difficult as one might imagine, according to Glenn Oder, ASLA and Jeff Stodghill, AIA. Oder, a landscape architect and Delegate in the Virginia House of Delegates and Stodghill, an architect and member of the Newport News (VA) School Board discussed the ways that their professional experience helped prepare them for campaigning.
Both agreed that running a campaign and guiding a project require skills refined within design professionals’ practice. “It was not that different from going to a client and building a campaign for a built project. You are building the project for a positive change. To do that, you have to have people behind your project,” said Stodghill.
Perhaps the biggest challenge, Stodghill said, was learning to adapt his working style to suit the compartmentalized world of politics. “I was used to doing things on my own. In the campaign, I found I had to be much more organized and depend much more on other people,” Stodghill said.
Both admitted that “there’s a certain amount of naïveté involved in running for office.” Oder stressed that the design professional’s creativity, experience speaking in front of crowds, and business experience are assets that candidates from other professions may not have. “I think landscape architects and architects have a leg up on everyone, even attorneys,” he said, “More individual professionals should be encouraged to run for office. We need leaders in the business world to be leaders of the community.”
All information provided on this blog entry is for informational purposes only. The American Institute of Architects makes no representations as to accuracy, completeness, timeliness, suitability, or validity of any information on this blog and will not be liable for any errors, omissions, or delays in this information or any losses, injuries, or damages arising from its display or use.