Advocacy…often a daunting and unwelcome challenge, particularly if you are the only one on your council that seems willing to do anything. It can feel like you’re on a deserted island and the only survivor trying to find a way back to civilization!
But it doesn’t have to be that way. And it shouldn’t either. A united voice speaking to legislators from the dais is much more powerful, no matter the issue. And it reflects the voice of your community, which is something lawmakers what to know and hear.
So how can you get your colleagues engaged when apathy seems prevail at every meeting? Here are some ideas:
- Schedule time at every council or board meeting to talk about legislative issues and/or advocacy and offer to facilitate the dialogue. This doesn’t take much time to initiate. It only requires you to start a conversation by asking open-ended questions such as:
- What their opinion or perspective is of the upcoming legislative session?
- What do they think are the most pressing issues facing your city or organizations in the coming year as it relates to state legislation?
- Ask what programs or services they feel may be at risk as a result of appropriation vetoes, pre-emption of municipal Home Rule authority or potential state unfunded mandates.
- Follow up question three by asking what programs or services they believe are essential and cannot afford to be reduced or eliminated?
- Ask them what ideas they have that your city or organization might implement to change the outcomes in 2019 and preserve municipal Home Rule authority.
- Are you part of a state association or have a lobbyist that works with your city? Invite them to give a pre-session overview at an upcoming meeting and periodic updates throughout interim committee weeks and the legislative session.
- Host a pre-session advocacy workshop before a council meeting and invite residents to participate. This is a great strategy for engaging both colleagues and constituents and take your message about preserving municipal Home rule authority beyond the walls of city hall.
You don’t have to go it alone, so putting for some effort to get others involved will payoff when it’s time to communicate with legislators during the upcoming session.
Your Partner in Advocacy…Kathy