The Other Side of the Dais

Strategies for Social Workers Vying to Serve in Public Office




Political social work, electoral politics, elected office, appointed office


This article articulates a reinvigorated vision for social workers to be elected and appointed to serve in public office and an array of strategies to achieve this vision. Coupling the current and divisive political climate with the pressing inequities of marginalized populations, an urgent imperative exists for social workers to “re-envision” and expand their macro practice options more deliberatively by serving in public office. Included in this challenge is the necessity for social workers to assume legitimated macro power by holding elected and appointed positions in government – a sub-branch of “political social work.” To that end, this article articulates five components of political social work practice in elected and appointed office: 1) the roles and skills of elected and appointed officials, 2) making the decision to seek office, 3) campaigning and networking, 4) serving in office; and 5) enlisting social workers to assist others who seek public office. It concludes with recommended strategies to strengthen these components that both social work education and social work professional associations should consider.


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