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How to Run for Office

Congratulations on making the decision to run for office! We hope that this information will serve as a guide for eligible candidates who may be interested in running for office in San Rafael.

The next General Municipal Election will be held on Tuesday, November 3, 2020 for the offices of:

City of San RafaelBoard of Education
  • Mayor (at-large)
  • Councilmember - District 1
  • Councilmember - District 4
  • Part-time City Attorney (at-large)
  • City Clerk (at-large)
  • Board of Education Trustee - Area 1
  • Board of Education Trustee - Area 3
  • Board of Education Trustee - Area 5

1. Eligibility

Here is a breakdown of eligibility requirements for the City and for the Board of Education:

City of San RafaelBoard of Education
  • Be a registered voter in the City of San Rafael at the time Nomination Papers are issued
  • For District seats: you must be a registered voter in the district
  • Is 18 years of age or older
  • a citizen of the state
  • a resident of the school district area up for election
  • a registered voter
  • not legally disqualified from holding civil office.

You can confirm that you are a registered voter in the City of San Rafael through the Marin County Elections Office. If you are unsure whether you live in the City of San Rafael or Unincorporated Marin you can use our Zoning Map to search your address. Make sure you follow the 'search tips' on the right side of the screen to guide you.

2. Declaring Candidacy

Candidates who intend to raise or spend campaign funds must file Form 501 (Candidate Intention) prior to solicitation or receipt of any contribution, or expenditure of any personal funds used for the election (including loans). This form is filed with the City Clerk. The form may be obtained in hard copy from the City Clerk or electronically from the Fair Political Practices Commission (FPPC). Also, check out the Fair Political Practices Commission's Candidate Toolkit to stay in compliance with the Political Reform Act!

3. Nomination Period (2020 Election)

Due to COVID-19, the City Clerk's Office is offering virtual appointments, emailed/mailed documents and in-person appointments.

Nomination papers for eligible candidates interested in filing for office may be obtained from the City Clerk's Office between the hours of 8:30 a.m. - 5:00 p.m. weekdays, beginning Monday, July 13, 2020 through no later than Friday, August 7, 2020, unless an incumbent fails to file, in which case there will be a five day extension period to no later than 5:00 p.m. Wednesday, August 12, 2020.

4. Financial and Campaign Disclosure Obligations

The FPPC mandates the campaign filing requirements for local candidates. The City Clerk serves as the filing officer for local campaign disclosure statements. Candidates are required to disclose certain economic interests, and must file periodic campaign reports. Failure to file appropriate statements and reports can result in criminal, civil, or administrative penalties. Failure to file within prescribed deadlines can also lead to monetary filing penalties for each day a statement is late. The appropriate forms may be obtained from either the City Clerk’s Office or the FPPC website.

Candidate Intention Statement (Form 501)
A candidate for local office must file this form prior to solicitation or receipt of any contribution or expenditure of any personal funds used for the election. The form is filed with the City Clerk.

Statement of Organization Recipient Committee (Form 410)
A candidate that raises contributions from others totaling $2,000 or more during a calendar year must file an original Form 410 with the Secretary of State to disclose campaign bank account information and to receive a campaign committee identification number. A copy of the form is filed with the City Clerk.

Recipient Committee Campaign Statement (Form 460)
A candidate who has a controlled committee, or who has raised or spent or will raise or spend $2,000 or more during a calendar year in connection with an election to office, will be required to file this form periodically prior to and following the election.

Campaign Statement – Short Form (Form 470)
Candidates who do not intend to raise or spend $2,000 in a calendar year in conjunction with their candidacy will file a Form 470 with the City Clerk.

Statement of Economic Interests

Candidates are required to file a Statement of Economic Interests Form 700 disclosing all reportable investments, interests in real property and income. Please be aware that all statements, and information submitted in conjunction with the statements, are a matter of public record and available for review by any requester.

The Political Reform Act, in part, provides that:

  • Receipts and expenditures in election campaigns should be fully and truthfully disclosed in order that the voters may be fully informed and improper practices may be inhibited. (Gov. Code §81002(a))
  • Assets and income of public officials that may be materially affected by their official actions should be disclosed, and in appropriate circumstances the officials should be disqualified from acting in order that conflicts of interest may be avoided. (Gov. Code §81002(c))

Additional Candidate Resources

You are encouraged to schedule appointments to obtain and file nomination papers. To schedule an appointment, please call (415) 485-3066 or email the City Clerk.

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