June 19, 2024

Keeping Media and Government Accountable.

Governing article suggests school board members add “lobbyist” to their skillsets

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As school board campaigns head into the fall, the online newsletter Governing is offering candidates and incumbents a “How-To” in representing their districts before state and federal legislators, effectively adding “lobbyist” to their already-full plate of policymaker, budget analyst, and construction overseer.

Among the tips on “How to Be a Better Advocate for Your District”

  • Get to know your elected officials, preferably before they are elected, when they may be more willing to discuss local concerns. Then stay in contact with them while in office.
  • Always thank your elected officials, either for specific pieces of legislation they’ve sponsored or just generally for their public service. Include their staffs in the appreciation.
  • Find common ground with legislators — give-and-take accomplishes more than refusal to compromise
  • Tell your story — speak about specific issues and their impact on your school, rather than generalizations.
  • Use the time out of session — lobbying is a year-round challenge. Invite legislators who are out of session to your school and community.
  • When an important issue comes up, communicate — familiarize yourself with upcoming legislation of importance to your district, and let elected officials know of your support or opposition.

We sought comments on the Governing primer from several current board members not on the ballot this year:

Vanessa Reid represents Leavenworth USD 453:

“Great advice for the most part. Spot on. Be a relationship builder, communicate well and make your position clear. Let your elected officials know what you’re asking.”

Mary Wood is a member of Lansing USD 469:

“I did find the article informative. It is important for one campaigning or sitting on the school board to be able to communicate, efficiently and effectively your viewpoints and concerns with an elected official/legislator.

“During my campaigning I found it very important to be out in the community attending townhall meetings, Chamber of Commerce meetings, public forums, visiting our capital and any events where our elected officials would be speaking or attending. I think the article was correct stating how important it is to be able to work with these officials to find the common ground, but be able to still uphold the morals, values, and standards of the people in our district that place me on the school board.

“The article talked about showing respect for those whom you may or may not agree with because in the end you are sitting in a position that is serving what’s best for your district and community.”

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