Meeting your local official at the most crucial time

By Jerry Brant

It seems that we all managed to survive the constant onslaught of political advertising and phone calls over the past few weeks.

Election Day has come and gone and in some cases our local, state and federal elected officials have changed.

Unlike some countries around the world, this occurred through the power of the “ballot” and not the “bullet”.

It didn’t take a coup.

It just took that personal commitment to go and vote.

Hopefully you exercised this privilege and voted for candidates that will advance initiatives that are important to the first responder.

Immediately after Election Day becomes a very hectic period for the newly elected official.

Within about a six week timeframe there are a number of decisions that the official must make that will have permanent, long term implications for them.

This point in the process is a very critical time as newly elected officials start to appoint their staff members and begin to develop their agenda.

Even though it is a rather busy point in their schedule it is also the perfect time for you to introduce yourself to them and their staff.

You want to meet them now and explain your situation rather than six months from now when you are calling to get a letter of support for your grant on the day before the application process closes.

Here are some suggestions on how to schedule this meeting and how to get the most out of it:

  1. Call and schedule an appointment.
  2. Be on time and be patient because you may have to wait for your meeting.
  3. Start the meeting by introducing yourself. Be polite and courteous. If you have any printed material about your department, your project or your program that you can leave with them, that is always beneficial.
  4. Keep your meeting short and focused. You will probably only have 15 to 20 minutes of the official’s time.
  5. Do not become argumentative.
  6. Ask if there is any way that you might be able to assist them. Offer the official or their staff the opportunity to stop at your station, to do a ride along with you or to address your organization at an upcoming meeting or event.
  7. While you are there, get the name and contact information for a staff person that you can secure as a contact.
  8. Thank them for their time.
  9. When you get back to the station send them a short thank you note for the meeting.
  10. If you agreed to provide the official with any type of documents please be prompt in sending them.
  11. If you are unable to secure a meeting with the elected official themselves sometimes it is just as beneficial to meet with their staff.

Here are some tips to help you navigate the alphabet soup of positions inside of an officials office.

  1. Chief of Staff: This person normally runs the office and is the elected official’s top advisor.
  2. Legislative Director: This person plans legislative initiatives and strategies.
  3. Legislative Assistant: This person specializes in specific issues and monitors their progress throughout the legislative process.
  4. State or District Director: If you are dealing with a federal or state representative, this person runs the official’s local office.

Schedule your visit today before it is too late. During the coming months a number of key issues that affect fire and EMS departments will be scheduled for discussion and possible legislative action.

Let your elected official know the type of impact that these proposals will have on your ability to deliver important services to your community.

 

About the author

Jerry Brant is a Senior Grant Consultant and Grant Writer with FireGrantsHelp and EMSGrantsHelp. He has 40 years of experience as a volunteer firefighter in rural west central Pennsylvania. He is a life member of the Hope Fire Company of Northern Cambria, where he served as chief for 15 years. He is currently an active member of the Patton Fire Company #1. For 20 years, Jerry was employed as the executive director and then president of a small non-profit community development corporation. Jerry has successfully written more than $52 million in grant applications and proposals. Jerry can be reached at Jerry.Brant@FireGrantsHelp.com.

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