How To Influence Local Politics

By
Real Estate Agent with Bradford Realty Group

HOW TO INFLUENCE LOCAL POLITICS
Copyright 2007, Chris Bradford

Very often you wish you could change the way things are without becoming a politician. One of the disadvantages of becoming a politician is that you become a target for the news media. Perfection is expected of politicians. However, as a private citizen, you are given much more leeway by the press. Here are a number of ways you, as a private citizen, can influence local politics.

  1. Attend Public Meetings: This is a very simple but very effective way to influence local politics. By being present at meetings, you will know what is going on in your community. What is more important, the politicians will get to where they will recognize you, and be more apt to listen when you voice your opinion.

  2. Write Letters: Most local politicians get very few letters. Letters are often reserved for state and federal politicians. Because of this, letters are given significant weight when considering issues.

  3. Make Phone Calls: This has essentially the same effect as writing letters, except it is more immediate. Even if you do not get to speak directly with the politician, ask the telephone receptionist to take a message and give your opinion in as few words as possible. Better yet, ask for the politician's fax number and fax him your opinion.

  4. Vote: You may think your vote doesn't count. With elections which are not heavily contested your vote may not determine the outcome of the election. However, if you want to make a difference in local politics, it is important that you be a registered voter and that your name appears on the roll of those who voted in the last election. Politicians look at this list and, in small towns, know everyone who voted. If your name should come to the forefront in an issue, the fact that you did not vote may hurt your argument severely. 

  5. Distribute Circulars: This is a very good way to raise public interest, and works best when you are using it against an issue. With such a circular, you should list the worst possible things that can happen should the issue be decided not in your favor.

  6. Start a Web Site: This runs very much along the Circular idea. The object here is to make your opinion known.

  7. Make Campaign Donations: It is said that money makes the world go around, but it also makes votes swing. If you want to be certain that your local politician's door will always be open to you and your opinion, the easiest way to accomplish this is to write him a check. With local politics, even a check for $99.00 will insure an open door.

  8. Write Letters to The Editor: Local newspapers love letters on controversial subjects. Write them. Politicians read editorials regularly, and your letter to the editor might stir similar responses. 

  9. Organize and Protest: Do a number of people in your community feel the same way you do? Get them all together and head down to City Hall. Be sure to call the local news media and let them know when and where you will be protesting.

All of these methods to manipulate local politics are based on the tried and true principle of "The squeaky wheel gets greased." In order to influence local politics, you need to squeak.

One word of caution, with "Public Figures" you can get by with saying pretty much what you want, so long as you don't go overboard. However, with private citizens, you can be held liable for slanderous or defamatory statements. So, be careful. Just because you think your neighbor is selling drugs does not give you the right to call him a drug dealer.

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Rainer
228,711
Sarah Cooper
Real Estate Shows - Hurricane, WV
Had to bookmark this to be sure I keep it in mind.  I have a little problem with our dog limit laws locally, and I would LOVE to change that.  I've wondered how to go about it ... and here you are with a blueprint!  Thanks, Chris!!  You're my new hero!
Mar 04, 2007 06:26 PM #1
Rainmaker
416,095
Debbie Malone
Londeree's Real Estate & Property Management - Lynchburg, VA
From Lynchburg To The Lake (434) 546-0369
What an excellent list Chris. Everyone can find at least one way to get involved and make sure your voice is heard. Another post destined for my printer, thanks!
Mar 04, 2007 06:49 PM #2
Rainer
22,485
Chris Bradford
Bradford Realty Group - McDonough, GA
Bradford Realty Group: Henry County, Georgia

Sarah and Debbie,

Thank you both for your kind comments. I am honored.

All real estate professionals should stay abreast and to some degree involved with local politics. Almost everything your local governing body does has some impact on our business.

Again, thank you.

-Chris

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Henry County, Georgia, Investment Real Estate

Mar 04, 2007 07:14 PM #3
Rainer
125,487
Timothy Schwartz
Century 21 Mack Morris Iris Lurie - Marlboro Twp, NJ
The Mayor in my town owns her own real estate agency in town (Colts Neck) and now she is a county Freeholder, everyone in town knows her, her picture is everywhere.  She is competition for me but did a great job running our town and giving back to the community.  My hat is off to her.
Mar 04, 2007 10:52 PM #4
Rainer
22,485
Chris Bradford
Bradford Realty Group - McDonough, GA
Bradford Realty Group: Henry County, Georgia

Timoty,

Real estate professionals who do not take undue personal advantage of thier positions can be a great asset to the community. More need to be involved.

-Chris

Mar 04, 2007 11:26 PM #5
Rainmaker
76,440
Stephen Luckett
ExecuHome Realty-LuckNet Real Estate Group - Dundalk Sparrows Point, MD

Chris-Great post! I have always had an interest in politics. Even held in few offices in past.

Expanding on your first point: Spend a couple of hours with your local Government meetings. Get to know your elected officials, they enjoy talking with people that are involved and will listen more. Always question their decisions, thought processes etc. not to try an undermine but to make sure they are looking at the big picture and how their one "little" decision snowballs very easily.

Mar 05, 2007 05:34 AM #6
Rainer
22,485
Chris Bradford
Bradford Realty Group - McDonough, GA
Bradford Realty Group: Henry County, Georgia

Stephen,

Thanks for your insight. You are correct.

About questioning their decision, I agree with you. What amazes me the most is the typical politicain's inability to see past the issue at hand and to visualize any unintended effects any ordinances they pass might have. Often they will solve one problem but create many others in the process.

I compare this problem to a nuclear fly swatter. Certainly it will kill the fly, but if you do not consider the unintended consequences you might wipe out the entire city too.

-Chris

Mar 05, 2007 12:19 PM #7
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Chris Bradford

Bradford Realty Group: Henry County, Georgia
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