Chris Anderson is the 21st Central Florida Political Leadership Institute graduate to serve in public office, “Ensuring Your Choice Counts” as the Seminole County Supervisor of Elections.
Growing up, Chris Anderson had every reason to be in the back seat of police car and no reason to be in the front seat. But through a combination of experience and effort along with an “always prepared” motto, Anderson was appointed to a key position in Seminole County government in 2019.
Anderson had previously attempted a run for Florida House District 28 in 2017 but withdrew his candidacy because he felt he was trying to learn how to run a campaign in the midst of being a candidate.
He reflected, “campaigning is a lot of hard work, and not only that there’s a lot of work you need to do ahead of time in order to be successful.” As a U.S. army veteran with a history in law enforcement, Anderson was no stranger preparing for the next challenge.
Just months after enlisting in the U.S. Army, Anderson was sent to be trained in one of the most stringent regiments. During his training, the 9/11 terrorist attacks happened and he was deployed to Afghanistan soon after. While serving in the U.S. Army, “solider readiness” meant being prepared for anything – a guiding principle throughout the twists and turns of Anderson’s life and career.
After his military service, Anderson had enrolled in a pilot training academy to pursue his childhood dream of flying. Fate, however, took him in a different direction. He applied to a position at the Indian River County Sheriff’s office and received an offer to become a deputy sheriff including a full scholarship to the local police academy and a salary.
That wasn’t what he’d expected to do. However, his background and service in the Army gave Anderson a disciplined readiness to take advantage of every opportunity, no matter what challenge he faced. The same attitude is why Anderson committed to learning the strategy behind campaigning after his first attempt seeking public office; however, he wasn’t sure where to start. A Google search of “Orlando campaign schools” led him to the Central Florida Political Leadership Institute (PLI) offered by the Orlando Economic Partnership.
After graduating from the 10th PLI class in November 2018, Anderson is a huge advocate for the program. “Through PLI, I was able to meet folks that I need to know both to successfully do my job now and run my campaign for re-election.” He stays connected with many of his classmates, getting together after hours to discuss their future plans to run for office and best practices for holding public office.
“Now, as an elected official who must run to maintain my position, I’m much better suited to do my job.”
Anderson appreciated the non-partisan approach to the program and its focus on running a campaign or seeking an appointment. The Q&A sessions with current elected officials, lobbyists and experienced professionals allowed for open, non-partisan dialogue focused around campaign strategy and tactics without having to discuss divisive political issues.
“During the class, I never felt anyone was trying to push a certain opinion or agenda. The focus was entirely on the strategy of campaigning and the process of campaigning or becoming appointed to office,” he said.
Anderson’s prepared approach is now paying off as he plans his campaign for re-election as the Seminole County Supervisor of Elections.
“If you’re serious about running for office or trying to figure out whether to make that decision, PLI is a great place to start. PLI fills an education gap on how to successfully run a campaign, apply for a board appointment and even successfully serve in a governmental position,” he said.
Considering running for office or seeking an appointment? The Central Florida Political Leadership Institute is accepting applications for its next class in 2020.