The Disability Caucus concept came about as a result of a meeting between Congressman Jim Langevin of Rhode Island and THEN Vancouver mayor, Sam Sullivan.
Both are tetraiplegic and they agreed that a forum that could bring politicians with disabilities together would be useful.
The goals of the Disability
Caucus are to:
At its first inaugural meeting members recognized that people with disabilities were experiencing the same sorts of issues in both Canada and the United States. In addition to Jim Langevin and Sam Sullivan, the founding members included: Steven Fletcher, Federal Member of Parliament, Winnipeg; Representative Tom Kennedy, Massachusetts Legislature; and Tim Louis, City Councillor, Vancouver, Canada.
Encouraging Other Disabled
People to Elected Office
The Disability Caucus believes that more people with disabilities need to take their place in seeking and attaining public office. This will be an important symbol of the full participation by disabled people in the life of community and will go a long way to ensuring that disability issues get adequate attention from political leaders.
Prerequisites to Elected Public Office
“Politician” is one of the few professions, which has no formal academic requirements. One of the most important indicators of success is a history of community service. People with disabilities who are serious about collective political life should involve themselves in their community in a variety of ways. Contribution to the disability community through volunteering for advocacy groups is an excellent way to start in community service.
Aspiring candidates should also realize that serious individuals would also need to broaden their knowledge and constituencies by serving in capacities outside of the disability community. Every effort should be made to expand one’s knowledge of a broad variety of disciplines, such as economics, sociology, psychology, philosophy and history.
Not everyone is suited for elected public office as there are many elements that are essential. These will often change from election to election. But certain attributes are useful for those interested in public office. Do you have a constituency of people who believe in you and respect your motivations and capabilities? Are you able to work well with people? Can you inspire others to work toward a common goal?
In most jurisdictions, political office is determined through political parties. Aspiring politicians should choose the party that best represents their ideals and should volunteer in some capacity. By getting involved in political organizations during election time much can be learned and relationships can be established that could be useful at a future time. Only a very few in any political party will attain the role of candidate but involvement in the political process is an immensely rewarding experience that can give any citizen a better knowledge of how their government works and a network of people who are committed to their community.
If you are a person with a disability interested in
politics please let us know. If you are interested in running for public
office and have questions for members of the Disability Caucus please
send a note and a bio or resume. One of the members will try to respond
as time permits. One of the features of elected public office is that
the responsibilities and pressures are great. If you do not receive
a response do not be offended as the first duty of the elected official
is to his/her constituency. Your question will be considered and we
may respond through our general website.
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