Political science professor aims to take the mystery out of running for political office

Melissa Miller


Local elections for public office are often wide-open fields with few candidates for voters to choose from. This is linked to many factors, but two of the most notable are the lack of information on what it takes to run and the misconception that running for local office is prohibitively expensive and complicated. 

Dr. Melissa K. Miller, an associate professor of political science at Bowling Green State University, wants to tear down the assumption that there are too many obstacles to running for local office.

Tuesday, March 5, rom 7 to 8:30 p.m., Miller will be conducting a nonpartisan workshop, “Gotta Run: Taking the Mystery Out of Running for Office,” at the Way Public Library in Perrysburg. Miller will explain how American elections function, dispel myths related to running for office and provide information on the process of campaigning.

“Gotta Run” will also include a mini-panel with two locally elected public officials. Eric Bennington, a Republican on the Perrysburg School Board, and Sandy Rowland, a Democrat on Bowling Green City Council, will both give candid advice and share their own experiences of running for public office. 

A partnership with the Bowling Green and Perrysburg chapters of the League of Women Voters, “Gotta Run” will educate the public in northwest Ohio on what it takes to run a campaign, from collecting the required signatures to get on the ballot to organizing volunteers and crafting effective campaign messages. 

“‘Gotta Run’ is designed to take the mystery out of running for office and introduce folks to the basic steps involved in getting your name on the ballot and setting up a campaign,” Miller said.

The workshop is offered in conjunction with Miller’s role as a Faculty Fellow with the Institute for the Study of Culture and Society (ICS) at BGSU. As a fellow, she is freed from her teaching and service responsibilities for a full semester to pursue an interdisciplinary research topic of her choice, and to share her research with the community.

Miller’s scholarly research involves taking the first-ever deep-dive into the challenges faced by political candidates who are mothers. From fielding questions about how they plan to balance holding public office and being a parent, to being praised for their authenticity, mothers broke new ground on the 2018 congressional campaign trail. Miller analyzes women candidates’ interactions with voters and the media and, in particular, whether they were publicly judged by different standards than male candidates who are fathers. She will present her research findings at two free public events: on April 2 at the Way Public Library and April 24 in the Bowen-Thompson Student Union at BGSU.

The Institute for the Study of Culture and Society is an interdisciplinary, public humanities center at BGSU founded in 1996. ICS helps faculty to develop, communicate and disseminate their scholarly and creative work to constituencies across campus and throughout the region. With its public events and outreach efforts, ICS brings issues of vital national and global importance to northwest Ohio and, in turn, brings community knowledge back into the university.