An incredibly informative presentation by Monisha Harrell of Equal Rights Washington included this guidance which I wanted to share with the group before our round robin of meetings during recess:
Make the most of this precious time by doing the following:
- Try to take the time to go to your chosen politician's web site, and research what they are passionate about, what they care about
- Try to align the topics you choose to discuss with their passion interests
- Whether they are a Senator or Representative or a member of the school board, (and, by the way, please do not forget about the members of your local school board: they are critical!), they are very busy with thousands of topics and bills and initiatives before them. Try to not throw the hundreds, if not thousands of issues that we now face.
Studies have shown that the politician DOES NOT need for you to supply them with statistics and numbers: they have those.
What they really need are PERSONAL STORIES that illustrate the effect that this topic has on you or a loved one. That is what the politician cares about, and they can use those stories on the house/senate floor, during arguments, and even during filibusters.
- It is recommended that you do your homework, study the politician, the topics, the issues, and your personal stake in the issue,
and then write a script, so that you will be ready to speak briefly but effectively, and forcefully and knowledgeable, but also politely.
Advocacy in Action
I have now attended several Advocate Days at the Olympia Capital, (for different topics), and have seen the power of this process.
With the ARC of Washington, whose constituents are individuals with Developmental Disabilities, we were there to acknowledge "Autism Awareness Day." It started in the morning at a nearby church with a briefing meeting to review the focused legislation. We learned how to fill out the "comment cards." These slips of paper are used to make a comment on ONE House or Senate Bill that you are advocating for or against. This slip of paper is then taken to the Entry Doors on the 3rd Floor. There are separate doors for the Democrats and the Republicans. When presented, each note is then hand carried to the Legislator by one of the Pages. Mission accomplished. We then walked over to the Dome for a recognition ceremony in the Rotunda. Then, after a lunch in the Capital Deli, we all delivered "goody bags" to each and every Legislative Member's office, which contained the "Fact Sheets" that covered the topics. (In this case, these were facts and statistic about Autism, Developmental Disability, etc. There are now about 10 different bills which must be voted on by Wednesday). This has been a tradition, and the office staff apparently look forward to receiving these each session. Brilliant. They assigned groups of offices to different volunteers, and then we split up and went from office to office. We usually met the Legislator's Assistant, and said, "Hello, I am here with the ARC of Washington with this year's Info Packet!" It was that easy, and each person was friendly and happy to see us. And some of their offices offered us candy in return!
Submitted by JR