Lee County Commissioner Tammy Hall comes from a marketing background, having owned her own agency in downtown Fort Myers prior to her career as an elected official. Hall shared her insights and experiences with campaigning and holding public offices in Fort Myers and Lee County government at the FPRA luncheon on May 4th at the Broadway Palm.
Hall explained that there are vast differences between running in a city council, single-member district race and county-wide, at-large, party-affiliated race. Those differences not only include budget and geographic/demographic scope, but also the dynamics. The city council race required door-to-door contact with voters, and a small budget to cover a small geographic area, whereas the candidacy for county commissioner required a much larger budget, advertising campaign and navigation of partisan politics.
In becoming the first female county commissioner in many years, Hall had to overcome gender stigmas and stereotypes of her predecessors, several of which had been involved in scandals. She also had to deal with attempts to smear her reputation. At one point, someone hacked into her AOL account and set up a very promiscuous profile. Thanks to a consistent reputation, and strong relationships with the local reporters and assignment editors, she was given the benefit of advance phone calls and the story was either downplayed or not reported at all, in most cases. When the same person/group also sent an email blast accusing her of questionable activities, the media chose not to cover it – mainly due to the credibility she had built.
Hall encourages candidates to always act with integrity and character (including online), and to keep open lines of communication with the media.