Sort of! For newly elected officials, last Monday saw the end of their hard fought campaigns. Congratulations on your success! For others, the saga continues until November.
So what does this mean for advocates? It means you need to think about taking your advocacy efforts up a notch and be prepared to engage the victors (whoever they are) once the general election concludes.
The good news is that in many races you now know the final candidates. And that presents opportunities to get involved. Here’s how:
- Ignore the rhetoric and become and informed voter! The best way to do this is by reviewing their campaign web sites and learning about their priorities. Then follow them on social media. Even if you’re not supporting them, it’s important to know what they’re saying, when and why.
- It’s also a good idea to check out any special interest groups that are endorsing them. This is especially true for your own legislators (if they’re opposed) and also for the Florida governor’s race. Why? Because when the 2019 legislative session rolls around, these groups are likely to assert their influence on policy issues.
- GET INVOLVED in your candidate’s campaign. Financially, as a volunteer or just putting a sign in your yard or business. Also, attend events or rallies and scheduled debates to show your support. These efforts will NOT go unnoticed and will be greatly appreciated.
- Start talking to them about your priorities, especially if they align with the candidate’s. What better way to further your relationship than by working together to advance the same issue(s)?
- Consider the source! During the primary, we received TWENTY-FOUR campaign mailers in one day! Some were actually duplicates, but not one changed our minds on who we were going to vote for. And if you take time to look at who’s sending them, it’s likely they’re “manipulating” the truth to push their own agenda.
For those whose campaigns are now over, the advocacy opportunities are almost limitless! But here’s just a few to help you build a new relationship or strengthen one that already exists:
- Congratulate the winner…WHOEVER they are! Even if you didn’t support them, they still won and will still be in office for the next two to four years. So holding a grudge won’t benefit you or your city or organization. A simple note sets the tone for building the right relationship.
- How can I help you? Many begin their new position later this year. If that’s the case, now’s a great opportunity to try and get on the schedule for a face-to-face meeting. Even if you know them a “sit down” provides a chance to talk about what you can do to help them transition into their new role.
- Extend an invitation. If they are unfamiliar with your city or organization, now’s the time to invite them for a tour. Spending time together with you, your staff and/or board of directors will help familiarize them with your priorities for the coming year. If a tour isn’t possible, personally invite them to speak at an upcoming council or board meeting. This is a really good way to meet several people (citizens and volunteers) in one location.
- For city officials. Start talking to them about Municipal Home Rule authority. Maybe they know what it is and what it means, but maybe they don’t. Either way, reinforcing what it means for your city is ALWAYS a winning strategy!
- Implement Strategy #4 above! They’re elected, which means they WILL be making policy decisions. And some of those decisions could have an impact on your community or organization. So be sure they know what’s important to you and who you can work together to achieve those priorities.
So whether your candidate(s) won or are continuing their campaigns…stay involved, stay engaged and stay informed. Doing so means your organization or community will reap the benefits when the elections conclude for another term!
Your Partner in Advocacy…Kathy