Tony Driessen, WLA Lobbyist, DeWitt, Ross & Stevens, S.C., reminds us that an excellent way to build a positive relationship with the legislators from your area is to be active politically. The types of activities you can do on your own time and with personal resources include:
- Have your family members, friends, relatives, business colleagues and neighbors sign the nomination papers that candidates need. Typically only 20 signatures on each nomination paper is needed. Plus you get to connect with your candidate when you call to request a set of the nomination papers, and again when you personally drop the papers off.
- Offer to display a lawn sign at your home. Candidates for the State Assembly and State Senate are delighted by requests for lawn signs. You can then meet with your candidates again when you pick up the sign, or when he/she drops it off to your home.
- Write a short letter to your local newspaper, praising the candidate for their excellent work on an issue or subject of interest or concern to you. It doesn’t really matter what the issue is, as long as your comments are positive. You can even share a copy of your letter, after you have sent it but before it is printed, with your legislator/candidate. That way they know you are active on their behalf, even if your letter is not published.
- Attend a candidate forum in your area. Introduce yourself (again) to the candidates and provide them with your business card. If you are so inclined, pose a relevant question at the forum that they can respond to.
- If your neighborhood has a social gathering or block party, invite your preferred candidate to attend. Then be attentive and introduce the candidate to your friends and neighbors at the get-together for a stated period of time.
- If you are a member of a community organization, invite the candidate to be your guest for the next meeting. Then introduce them to others in attendance.
- Offer to do a “lit-drop” in your neighborhood for your candidate. It involves distributing campaign literature, usually at your convenience. Typically it takes less than an hour to do in your subdivision or neighborhood, and it is much appreciated. You then get to meet with your candidate when you pick up the literature, and you can call them later to tell them you successfully completed the task.
- Offer to stuff envelopes for mailings to voters. You can either do this at the candidate’s campaign headquarters (often, that is their home) for a couple of hours, or you can pick up several boxes and do them at your home, in front of the TV. Either way, you are being very helpful and are making important connections with your candidate.
- Call the candidate and ask if you can cook hotdogs, brats or burgers at a campaign event. Alternatively, see if they would like you to bake brownies, cupcakes or another treat for either a campaign event or for volunteers to eat during an active day.
- Contact your candidate and offer to be a driver or campaign “go-fer” for an evening or a Saturday morning or afternoon. You may be delivering campaign signs to homes, be picking up printing materials, going to the post-office or even driving the candidate to a speaking event. This can provide you with valuable time to interact with the candidate!
One can be politically active without committing a lot of time (or money) to the effort. Rather, a little bit of activity every-so-often is recognized and appreciated by candidates. Make a commitment to yourself to do your small part to make participatory democracy serve the public interest!