How to Research a Candidate

Have you been wondering who is running in our local elections? Where does each candidate stand on the issues? And what are some trusted sources to get educated on candidates and issues? We’re here to help you sift through the daunting Google search results. During our process, James Coleman will be referenced as an example—not as an endorsement, but simply as an illustration as we walk you through how and where to learn more about your local lawmakers.

If you’re starting from the square one, first register to vote! The Colorado Secretary of State website offers online voter registration. Now that that’s done, let the research begin. Navigate to Find My Legislator to find out who your current legislators are in the house and senate, as well as what house and senate districts you live in. Once you have your house and senate districts identified, you can use Ballotpedia to identify who is running in 2020 in your district races.

Once you have identified your candidates, you can begin your research. To start with a cut and dry look at an incumbent candidate, go to the Colorado state government website to find the registry of current legislators. On the legislator’s page, you’ll find information on their occupation, party affiliation, any leadership positions, committee assignments, sponsored bills and resolutions, as well as contact information. In addition, there are links to the sponsored bills and resolutions for a brief summary of what the legislator supported. Ballotpedia is another good starting resource for information on incumbents and non-incumbents. The Ballotpedia page includes the candidates sponsored legislation, in addition to a general biography of the candidate and their election history.

Now that you have the background on a candidate, the next stop will be the candidate’s website, typically found through a simple search engine. Their website will give insight into the candidate and the campaign from their perspective. In the case of James Coleman, there are tabs for ”issues,” ”endorsements,” “news,” and “ways to get involved,” including volunteer opportunities and through monetary donations. The candidate’s Facebook page and other social media channels are a great next stop and, similar to their website, will be a resource to get to know the candidate in their own words and through a more informal platform. In the case of James Coleman, his Facebook page had personal information, resources for constituents for things like help during the pandemic and the cold weather resources, as well as “Convos with Coleman,” which are hosted on Facebook and cover a wide variety of pertinent topics.

By using this article as a research guide, a lot can be learned about a gleaned about a candidate quickly by cutting through the formidable search results and offering some proven resources.

About the Author

Amy Dery

AIA, Project Coordinator, 2WR + Partners | Member of the AIA Colorado Architecture Advocates Network

© AIA Colorado 2024
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