by Courtney Hogan, PIJAC Government Affairs Specialist
The weeks after Labor Day are when electoral campaigns kick into high gear. They inundate neighborhoods with lawn signs and leaflets, buy up television ads, and host town halls in the hopes of swaying voters.
When it comes time to vote in November, you need to elect someone who will clearly communicate your needs to government. Regardless of your business in the industry, educating yourself is the best way to be sure that your voice is heard.
Research the Candidates
Most municipal websites include election information, including lists of local candidates and election procedures. Check them out online or contact your local government and request the information. Familiarizing yourself with candidates’ positions will help you see where your opinions connect or differ and help you form questions on their unclear positions.
For an incumbent candidate, use their website or contact their legislative office for information on past positions. For a challenger, research their background and find out what they hope to achieve if elected.
Contact the Offices
If you have any lingering questions after researching the candidate, a campaign office is the best place to call. When contacting the office, it is best to have your questions prepared; staffers may ask you to send the questions in writing so that they can thoroughly answer them. Try to have broad questions backed up with previous voting records or pieces the campaign published on the issue.
See the Candidates in Person
In the last few weeks of an election, many candidates will schedule town hall events or go door to door to meet voters. Take any opportunity you can to see the candidate speak and interact with them.
Use All Available Resources
During a campaign, several special interest groups release surveys and questionnaires filled out by candidates. Some do this in order to endorse candidates, while others release voter guides or “grade” a candidate on their position on a specific issue. These are often the most comprehensive explanations of a candidate’s position and can help you see how closely you align with the them, though it should be remembered that most of these groups have their own priorities and agendas.
Call the campaign office and ask for a lawn sign or a bumper sticker. These are both easy ways to advertise for and support your candidate, especially if your home or business is in a busy part of town. Campaigns will gladly accept a donation, but if you have time to volunteer, sign up to hand out campaign literature, or work a phone bank or a local event for the candidate. Talking with your neighbors, voter to voter, is a great way to share information about a candidate.
As a business person in the community, you can contact the campaign about endorsing the candidate at an event of his or her choosing. If you are on a local Chamber of Commerce or other civic organization, inquire about inviting the candidate to address your next meeting. You can gather a group of other local business owners and host a small meet and greet with the candidate or even a fundraiser for the campaign. Events at a retail or manufacturing location or with local business leaders offer the candidate a great opportunity to discuss employment, taxes and the importance of local industry, and provide a great photo opportunity for the campaign.
Every election at the local, state, or federal level has the ability to impact your business. Be a proactive voter by educating yourself to make the best decision for you, your business, and the industry. Contact PIJAC more information.