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LaGuardia to train city’s future leaders

The college's Adult and Continuing Education program and the city's League of Women Voters will offer a course on how to run for public office in the city at the Long Island City campus for six consecutive weeks, beginning in March.The bipartisan course will teach students about election law, campaign finance, debate techniques, Election Day strategies, how to address a television camera, how to clarify their positions, how to collect signatures and how to make alliances with people who share their values, said Alison Alpert, executive director of the League of Women Voters."We really want to cover the bases, from the general to the specific, such as how many signatures you need to run as an independent for City Council or what to do if someone asks you a question during a debate and you don't know the answer," she said.Alpert said the New York Community Trust decided to fund the program after the league wrote a proposal for the course. Classes will be offered at one City University of New York location in each of the five boroughs.She said the league formed the program because people call en masse close to elections to inquire about how to run for political office. Most of them have no clue as to how to launch a campaign, she said."New York state election laws are pretty complicated. There is a lot of information and it is not really centralized," she said. "(In the classes), you can get it all in one place."Each session runs from 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. Wednesdays beginning March 7 and ending April 18. The six courses will be taught by experts in the field, including former Manhattan Borough President Virginia Fields, Alpert said."It's an outstanding opportunity for people at all stages of their career to find out more about running for public office," said Jane MacKillop, acting associate dean for LaGuardia's Division of Adult and Continuing Education. "Participants will learn useful information that can be used in every sort of political campaign."Alpert said the majority of people who have shown an interest in the course are in their 20s, 30s or 40s, but the course is open to everyone. She said most of the students in the course will likely not have any prior political experience.The price for the course will be $50 for the general public and $25 for CUNY students. But students may apply for scholarships for the program, Alpert said. Reach reporter Nathan Duke by e-mail at news@timesledger.com or by phone at 718-229-0300, Ext. 156.

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