While some states are continuing to count their final ballots, here in Michigan, we already know who will be representing us at the federal, state, and local levels. Hopefully you took the first step of learning what was on your ballot, researched the candidates and proposals, and waited in line and cast your vote on Tuesday. But, that’s only the first step. Now is the most opportune time to talk to your newly elected officials (even those incumbents who are continuing to represent you) about the issues that matter to you. Now is the time that policy advocacy can make the biggest difference.
Why is that, you ask? Because the first and most critical component of getting engaged is building relationships. You know that you’re more likely to lend $5 to someone you know and trust rather than a stranger. When it comes to policymakers, the same is true. Over the next several months, your legislators will be hosting coffee hours, attending meet and greets, and doing everything they can to further understand the needs of their constituents. This is the time to introduce yourself, show them around your program, do some basic education on the children and family issues that matter the most to you and your community. No need to make the big ask, just begin to build the relationship and have them understand how and why you can be a resource to them. And if you already have a relationship with your elected officials, congratulate them and reiterate that you are a resource. If they don’t hear from you, how else will they know all of those critical things that you know that could really help them make the right decisions?
- They will be deciding how to invest our tax dollars. You can help them understand where these investments make the most difference, particularly for kids of color and from low-income families.
- They will continue to explore the needs of Michigan families and continue to work to strengthen the economy. You can help them understand what it takes for a struggling family to provide basic needs like food and housing for their children.
- They will be changing the way that education is funded and structured. You can help them understand that to reduce the academic achievement gap, children’s education must begin before birth and continue through to their successful career.
- They will be changing how health care is provided in Michigan and must focus on reducing costly disparate health outcomes. You can help them understand what it takes to make sure that pregnant women, babies, children, youth and their families stay healthy and what a difference their health makes to other life success.
Though the elections are over, our Vote for Michigan’s children webpage has resources you can use to assist in educating your legislators. There, you’ll find some quick facts about the status of children in Michigan, templates you can use to contact your newly elected policymakers, and issue briefs on specific children’s issues. Act now, and continue to act!