More the three dozen residents turned out for a reception at the Montgomery County-Norristown Public Library on Monday evening hosted by grassroots political group Citizens for a Better Norristown (CBN).
According to members of the group, the aim of the evening was to introduce average citizens to the political process and encourage residents to run for local office.
"We want to see good, quality people in office," said John Milligan, an executive committee member of CBN.
This election season, the organization hopes to identify and support candidates, increase voter participation and educate voters.
Speakers for the Monday evening program included West Norriton Commissioner Brian Kennedy, East Norriton Supervisor John Zurzola, Former Norristown Council President Tony Darden, Judge of Elections Rev. Helen M.C. Jones, former Norristown Area School Board Member Karen Shanoski and Montgomery County Voter Services Director Joseph R. Passarella.
The current and former candidates offered advice and encouragement to residents who might be considering running for local office.
"Public service is very very rewarding," Zurzola told those in attendance. "It's one of the most postive things in my life."
Zurzola went on to add that support from a nonpartisan group like CBN could be a real advantage for first-time political hopefuls.
"Wen I ran in 2009, there want anything like this," Zurzola mused.
Kennedy made a point of stressing that while many candidates run as a member of a political party, an important part of the job for any elected official is to represet the constituents as a whole.
"I like to think I represent the entire body of our township," Kennedy said of his own work. "Not just the Republicans or the Democrats."
Joe Passarella, director of the county's Voter Services Department, offered more practical tips and advice for those wishing to throw their hat into the ring. (Forms and instructions for getting on the ballot, as well as descriptions of current open races in the Norristown, West Norriton and East Norriton area, can be downloaded from our PDF section.)
Several audience members took the opportunity to ask questions and make connections and some even expressed their intent to run for office.
"'Can I do this?' is a question that's on my mind," admitted Mydera Robinson. "Do I want to do this? Absolutely."
For more information about Citizens for a Better Norristown or to enlist their aid in your own political endeavors, call them at 484-614-0983 or email email@example.com. You can also find more information on their Facebook page.