Pillow Talk - Advocacy Tip #3 - Due Diligence: Know Your Elected Officials
Opposition research, the dark art of politics, seeks to learn anything and everything about a candidate’s political opponents. Often associated with dirt-digging, closeted skeleton re-animations, and gutter dwelling, mudslinging, this seamier aspect of realpolitik deters many good people from seeking elected office. The shadows, curses, hexes, jinxes, charms, and creatures of political warfare rarely rise to Hogwarts level, and the truth is the best defense against political rumors and tabloid innuendos.
Not all political research is bad. In fact, the more you know about an elected official, the more effective your advocacy will be. Think of this activity as advocacy due diligence. You wouldn’t acquire an asset, hire an employee, or sign a lease with a resident without doing a thorough background check and analysis. Gathering knowledge is part of every multi-housing owner’s/operator’s repertoire.
Due diligence on elected officials means knowing as much as possible about their: 1) likes and dislike; 2) education and professional background; 3) previous government experience; 4) community involvement; 5) family and socio-economic status; 6) their constituent’s demographics and district boundaries, and 7) voting records; 8) friends and influencers; 9) opponents and enemies; and, most importantly, 10) the results of the most recent election.
This list is not exclusive nor exhaustive, but it a great place to start. Knowledge is power, but knowledge also affords you the opportunity to connect with an elected official in a meaningful way.
For instance, it is good to know that Congressman Marc Veasey (D – TX 33) grew up in affordable housing in west Fort Worth and often moved as a child. It is good to know that Fort Worth Mayor Betsy Price went to the same high school as Congressman Roger Williams (R 0 TX25) and former Congressman Pete Geren. It is great to know that Arlington City Council member Helen Moise has her CPM and that her daughter works in our industry. It is even better to know that state representatives Stephanie Klick (R- HD91) and Craig Goldman (R- HD97) are AATC members.
AATC, TAA, and NAA government relations staff will provide you background on elected officials and their staff prior to meeting with them. Invest whatever time it takes before your meetings to learn this information and do your research.
Your goal is to find a connection point—something or someone that personally connects you to that elected official. Perhaps you attend the same church, your kids play in the same soccer league, or you have a mutual friend. When that government official sees your face, you want them to call you by your first name and ask you about that mutual connection.
Impactful advocacy occurs when you have a conversation as friends. Knowledge builds that partnership bond. Life is about who you know; effective advocacy is about what you know about who you know.
Perry Pillow is AATC’s Director of Government Affairs. For more information, contact Perry at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 817-616-0354. This article is a repost from AATC's Dimensions Magazine. View the full article here: http://dimensionsmag.org/pillow-talk-advocacy-tip-3-due-diligence-know-your-elected-officials/