Elected Officials: Call ‘em, Email ‘em, Visit ‘em OFTEN!
As it has become increasingly critical that we speak out on issues important to women and girls, the Manatee County Branch developed a way to make it easy for members to call and email their elected officials. They created this branch bookmark [Publisher version link] for members to keep handy and to use often. You can get a template to create one like the image below for the elected officials in your area from Vicki Waters.
Bookmark Vero Beach AAUW Aug 2017
The Manatee County and Bradenton Branches are also using the bookmark in joint letters of congratulations they are sending to local women in the news to introduce them to AAUW and to invite these community leaders to join one or both branches. They also plan on approaching the local library system to see if they would allow AAUW to put bookmarks in each library in the county.
Pat DeWitt, our AAUW FL Public Policy Director, is working with national to increase our influence on state legislation. Florida state senators and representatives are drafting and filing legislation right now for the 2018 session which begins January 9, 2018, and if members will attend the county legislative delegation meeting, usually held in October, they will be able to share the bookmark with others who attend the meeting to express their concerns about and support for specific legislative measures – another way to get our names out there.
Vicki Waters of Manatee Branch (941 773-2643) is willing to work with any Florida branch to finalize their very own bookmark to use however they wish.
Where to find the information you need:
- Supervisor of Elections website: The website of most county elections offices generally has a list of elected officials from cities up to federal officials with their contact information. If not, try some of the following sites.
- VoteSmart.org. This link to the Florida information on this website has contact information, but it needs to be double checked for the latest data. It also has lots more information on elected officials’ positions on the issues, ratings by various organizations and lobbyists, votes on key legislation, fundraising, and more.
- Florida Senate and Florida House. In addition to current lists of state senators and representatives and links to further information about them, these websites let you find out what bills they have introduced or sponsored. There are tracking systems for you to request alerts sent directly to your email based on legislation and members you have elected to follow.
Florida, Please be alert to two things this month:
- National legislators are on vacation in September and this would be a good time to visit them. We are all on the Two-minute Activist, but personal contact is even more effective. There’s a group of women in Jacksonville who show up at Rubio’s local office and our local representative’s office every week to politely let them know what they think of current issues. What do you think of that? They are motivated. Where are we? We are the established, educated women advocates since 1881. Make plans to visit this month and you will have plenty to talk about, primarily budget issues.
- National AAUW has chosen Florida to plan and host a press conference regarding the release of the new version of The Simple Truth About the Gender Wage Gap during the week of September 18. By that time, Rep. Berman and Sen. Stewart will probably have filed the Florida equal pay bill, so there will be a lot to talk about. More on this later.
2 new FL. Legislature Bills have been filed that are worrisome. One is a claim from Justice2Jesus saying that the Legislature didn’t properly act on its lobbying between 2006-2008.
The other is Steube’s Human Trafficking Bill. While an improvement, it has two worrisome areas. It says that teachers must follow the curriculum at all times. It also says human trafficking should be taught from grades 7-12. However, the prime age for victims is averaged at 11-14. The education must start earlier.
This is the post excerpt.
I am honored to serve another two-year term as AAUW Florida Director for Public Policy. I hope this blog will help us share information and inspiration.
Here are some suggestions and pleas for the new year:
- Do not become paralyzed by the number of things that are going wrong. As an individual, you could pick one way to advocate every day, or every week, and that would make a real contribution. You can call a legislator or write a letter to the editor any day. Check the newspaper’s guidelines for letter or op-ed submission. Use AAUW’s Two-Minute Activist regularly. As a branch, please do plan at least one event a year when you will publicly (not just in the branch meeting!) advocate for AAUW’s public policy priorities. See suggestions below.
- Concentrate on educating your community. If we are the “educated women”, let’s use that and try to create occasions for the dissemination of facts and real-life observations and for civil dialogue. Anyone can attend a rally and wave a placard, and we can certainly do that, but would it not be our particular mission to educate and try to change hearts and minds with information? A great man I used to know who advocated before legislators said that they want “facts and a few good stories”. We love facts. For example, The Simple Truth About the Gender Pay Gap is full of them. We need some compelling stories, because they are powerful in influencing opinion. Just make sure they are true stories!
- Work with “diverse allies and coalitions” as AAUW recommends, but check them out first. Find out if their goals and mode of operation are consistent with your values and our public policy. See http://www.aauw.org/resource/workshop-how-to-build-coalitions/.
Here are some types of advocacy events you can consider. You can learn about most of them and more on the AAUW website.
- Events featuring education
- Issue forum, perhaps with coalitions or allies. http://www.aauw.org/resource/organize-an-issue-forum/
- Letters to editor or op-eds. http://www.aauw.org/resource/lte-vs-op-ed/
- Tabling event at which you distribute AAUW literature and talk with people. http://www.aauw.org/resource/how-to-tabling/
- Open meeting to discuss advocacy: like issue forum but might have a broader focus
- Events to influence legislators
- In-district meeting with elected officials http://www.aauw.org/resource/how-to-hold-a-meeting-with-your-elected-officials/
- Call-in day: get together and call legislators
- Lobby Days: Let’s go to Tallahassee!