This year, a group of students and faculty have been organizing a number of workshops at our university. The organization is primarily interested in funding environmental education, but their workshops can relate back to almost any field of work. This term, we focused on campaigning.

Every organization needs a good campaign to make sure their message gets across to the appropriate audience.

If you remember anything from this blog, here are the two take-home messages:

1. What do we want?

2. Who can give it to us?

Last week, two things happened. I wrote a blog highlighting the “must-knows” about sanctuary cities and more importantly, the town of Mount Desert voted to be the first sanctuary community in all of Maine.

Now remember, being a sanctuary town or city is not binding. There are no set rules that go along with being a sanctuary community. It’s a political stance in which the town avoids full cooperation with the federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

On June 6th, the town of Bar Harbor will vote whether or not they want to join the sanctuary league.

If residents favoring the mandate were unsure of the outcome and wanted to ensure Bar Harbor becomes a sanctuary community, they’d need to come up with an effective ‘plan of attack.’

I thought using Bar Harbor as a case study could help process what a campaign map could look like.

To start, we need a goal in a campaign – the end to a mean. A reason why residents or students would want to assist the town in becoming a safe haven for some of its residents.

Goal: To become a sanctuary city.

Creating a goal can be quite difficult. The more specific, the better. In this case, Bar Harbor residents would want to vote for Bar Harbor to become a sanctuary town.


The targets are the audience of your campaign. Who will help you get what you want? It’s good to take into consideration as many stakeholders as possible. However, remember to focus on those who will give you the best outcome.

Primary Targets: individuals who potentially have the most power in the decision-making process. They are the ones who will give you what you want.

1. Bar Harbor Councillors – Theses council decision-makers are meant to represent the local community. Let them know what you want.

2. House Representative – They care about the municipalities they are representing. At least they’re supposed to …

Secondary Targets: individuals who have the capacity to influence the primary targets

1. Bar Harbor Residents – Community members probably care about these decisions. Have conversations with them – whether that’s a neighbor you see in coffee shop or in Hannaford’s.

Strategy: Create a popular referendum

A popular referendum is a petition signed by a set minimum number of registered voters meant to convince a legislative body to, in this case, consider Bar Harbor as a sanctuary community.

A strategy usually takes form in some type of legislation when dealing with a political action or position. A strategy helps you determine how you’re planning to achieve your goal. Multiple strategies are welcomed, but remember to focus on the most effective ones.


1. Canvas – knock on your neighbors’ doors. Let them know you are organizing a campaign and that you want them to join.

2. Attending the Town Council – make sure you have a presence in your community. Make sure your community members know you care about the future of the place you plan to live in for an extended period of time. Don’t just show up one day and say “hey, I just thought of this. Let’s make it happen … now.” Make sure you’re talking to the right people. Make sure you listen to those who have been part of the Town Council for a long period of time.

3. Advertising – posting schedules and agendas of town meetings so community members know when sanctuary community talks and votes are happening.

The tactics are basically steps you have to take in order to directly influence your strategy. When first planning a campaign, tactics seem to be the easiest step to plan. The problem is, your goal will be lost in the excitement to start doing something, anything. 

Focus on your goal first. Sit down and really think about what you want. What are the pros and cons? Why do you want what you want? Dribble, cross out or draw if you have to. This process is meant to help you structure such scattered thoughts and ideas. It’s not meant to be easy, but it is meant to be helpful.

Now that you know the basics of campaigning, will you go forth and help your town be a sanctuary community?

Start rallying. Start calling. Start attending those town meetings.

ACT in solidarity with your community members.

Suchat Pedersom – The News Journal
This blog was made possible by the workshop provided by John Deans and Emily Postman, both COA graduates.

One thought on “A Campaign Case Study

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