Bookmark and Share

How to Run for Public Office

State law and local ordinances require the completion of several forms when running for office.  Each of these forms can be found at our Candidate Packet Forms section.

►For specific dates and information relating to upcoming 2020 Spring Election, please read our 2020 Overview, 2020 Ballot Access Checklist, and 2020 Campaign Finance Checklist.

STEP 1: FILE CAMPAIGN REGISTRATION STATEMENT (CF-1)

Candidates are prohibited from campaign fundraising or incurring campaign expenses until this form has been filed with the City of Milwaukee Election Commission. This form requires you to:

  • Identify the office you will be pursuing
  • List the bank information for your campaign finance account
  • Provide the name and contact information of your campaign treasurer
             You may act as your own campaign treasurer.  However, due to the complexity of completing the forms correctly, the Election Commission encourages you to select someone for this position that has a good familiarity with Excel spreadsheets and tracking expenses and revenue.

STEP 2: FILE DECLARATION OF CANDIDACY (EL-162) or DECLARATION OF CANDIDACY FOR SCHOOL BOARD CANDIDATES (EL-162SD)

The Declaration of Candidacy is due to the City of Milwaukee Election Commission no later than 5:00pm on the day of the deadline for filing nomination papers.

STEP 3: CIRCULATE YOUR NOMINATION PAPERS

Completed nomination papers must be submitted to the City of Milwaukee Election Commission no later than 5:00pm on the day of the deadline.

Read all instructions relating to the distribution of nomination papers to ensure that each page of your signatures meets circulating requirements. All nomination signatures are reviewed by the City of Milwaukee Election Commission and may be challenged by other candidates running for office. 

If a signer’s address is not legible or valid, or the person resides outside of the area represented by the officeholder, the signature will be disqualified. While it is not required, you are encouraged to collect at least 100 signatures more than the minimum requirement. You are also encouraged to verify the addresses included on your nomination papers on Where Do I Vote? before submitting them. Once nomination papers are submitted, no changes can be made. 

STEP 4: COMPLETE THE STATEMENT OF ECONOMIC INTERESTS FORM

Municipal Candidates (Mayor, Alderpersons, City Attorney, City Comptroller, City Treasurer): The Statement of Economic Interests form and instructions will be posted on our website after December 1st each year. This form is due to the City of Milwaukee Election Commission by 4:30pm on the 3rd day following the deadline for filing nomination papers.

Municipal Judge Candidates: Complete and submit a Statement of Economic Interests (SEI) to the Wisconsin Ethics Commission, 212 East Washington Avenue, 3rd Floor, P.O. Box 7984, Madison, WI, 53707-7984, no later than 4:30 PM on the first Friday in January. Any time after December 1st, a candidate may electronically enter and submit the Statement of Economic Interests form with the Wisconsin Ethics Commission at sei.wi.gov.

School Board Candidates: Milwaukee Board of School Director candidates are exempt from this filing requirement.

STEP 5: CERTIFICATION BY THE ELECTION COMMISSION

All nomination paper signatures will be reviewed after the deadline for submission. In some instances, the Election Commission may ask you to provide a corrective affidavit if errors have been made on a nomination page. If your nomination papers are complete (there are a sufficient number of valid signatures) and all other filing requirements have been met, your nomination papers will be certified as sufficient by the Election Commission and your name will appear on the ballot. If there are not enough valid signatures on your nomination papers or you did not complete all filing requirements, your name will not appear on the ballot.

If more than two candidates are certified for one office, there will be a primary election for that office. The order of candidate names on the ballot is determined through a random drawing selection process. Notice of the drawing is provided to all candidates and the public is invited to witness this process.

You may not remove your name from the ballot once your nomination papers have been certified.

STEP 6: SUBMIT CAMPAIGN FINANCE REPORTS

Unless you have declared an exemption (you do not expect to raise or spend an aggregate of over $2,000 on your campaign), you are required to file campaign finance reports. We will email or mail a reminder prior to each filing due date as indicated on the Campaign Finance Report Filing schedule. However you are responsible for filing a campaign finance report whether or not you receive the reminder. Campaign finance schedules and reporting requirements can be complex and require significant attention to detail and an ability to learn and understand reporting instructions.  You are encouraged to select a campaign treasurer that is reliable and organized.  All reports must be complete, accurate and meet full public disclosure requirements.

The process of running for office in the City of Milwaukee is guided by Wisconsin Election and Campaign Laws, chapters 5-12 and the Wisconsin Elections Commission (WEC).  An important role of the City of Milwaukee Election Commission is to provide information and assistance to any person interested in running for public office in the city. However, as per Wisconsin state law: Any person interested in running for office has the burden and responsibility of understanding and complying with candidate filing and campaign finance reporting requirements.