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HOW TO INFLUENCE LOCAL POLITICS
Brande and Chris Bradford | Contributing Writer
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. If it is zoning you are fighting, look in the zoning code of your city and see what is allowed under the zoning classification. If the zoning code says that convenience stores, auto repair, and landfills are allowed under the zoning, and the petitioner wish's to build a convenience store it is still honest to say in your circular that there is a petition to re-zone the property so that it allows landfills. There is no guarantee that after the property is re-zoned that a convenience store will actually be built. They may develop it for ANY of the uses permitted under that particular zoning designation, including a landfill.
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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Brande and Chris Bradford are active participants in a home based business opportunity and are the publishers of GREAT HEIGHTS, a monthly newsletter focused on home based business issues. To subscribe to their newsletter, send a blank e-mail to: Great-Heights-Subscribe@yahoogroups.com or visit: http://www.brandebradford.com