RD responded to this post with a few thoughts on what works, and fails, in local politics:
Having work in the US Senate and then for President Reagan, and having worked at the state level and local levels of government I can tell you the key is finding candidates who have integrity. Yes there are a few and too often even they get corrupted by money and power, but there are still a few.
I have found that if you have integrity and are recognized as an expert they will treat you with respect.
But never lie or overstate, NEVER or you will lose it all.
I have been successful because I recognized this early. they don't always like what you tell them, but if they respect you and your knowledge and insight, they will come back to you for more.
One of the biggest problems I've encountered in politics are those who hire "yes" men/women only. They want staff to make them feel good and "protect" them. this is wrong headed management philosophy. you want the most talented and competent people you can find. Loyalty in politics usually only runs up, not down.
I've fallen on the spear a couple times. Once it was the wrong decision and once it was the right one.
If I find a Member has lied to me or not been fully honest with me, they go on my shit list for life and I quietly work hard to get them out of office.
Surprisingly, I found politics most corrupt at the local level.
Bottom Line: We have to find candidates with integrity, and that is NOT easy today.