On Wednesday I made my monthly trip to the Capitol to listen to legislators discuss and debate a variety of issues. Some of these issues will have no impact on me, my family, our community or UWSL’s over all goals. Other issues though could have a profound impact on all four. Every day, if you listen to the radio, watch the news or read the news paper, you are bombarded by the political fighting over the national budget. What all of this reminds me of is the need for people to be involved in the political process. This doesn’t mean that everyone needs to join a campaign, hit a picket line or attend interim committees on the Hill. What it does mean is that each of us needs to take the time, if we haven’t done so already, to get to know our elected officials.
I have always found that the relationships I form help me to achieve my goals. Upon reflection, it is the relationships I did not form, for whatever reason, that could have been really useful. One of the key components of advocacy is relationships. Since the legislature is not in session, now is the best time to get to know your representative and senator. Let them know who you are, what matters to you, your family and our community. While it is their job to represent you, it is the relationship you form with them that will put you in a different category from all the other people that they hear from and represent during the session. Instead of being only a constituent (which is powerful in itself), you can be a resource. Does that mean that your representative will always vote the way you want them to? No, but it does mean that you have their ear. By reaching out to them now, your voice will carry more weight when tough decisions must be made.