by: Tracie Kenyon, President/CEO, Montana Credit Union Network
You’re probably too late! By the time that you read this, the deadline for officially placing your name on the ballot in most states for this year’s election will have passed. (Montana’s was yesterday, March 12.)
So what’s left for those of us not on the ballot? Election strategies…it’s been said that “the best defense is a good offense.” I absolutely agree with that adage when it comes to political advocacy.
To ensure credit union-friendly lawmakers, the most effective advocacy efforts begin before candidates announce their intent to run; in fact, we should be recruiting candidates for public office. Too often we don’t take an active role in the election process and then, well as I used to tell my kiddo when she’d complain about her gumball machine prize, “you get what you get and you don’t throw a fit.” Except that we do grumble and whine when we get officeholders who don’t understand or support us. And, we often try to recover through lobbying and education efforts after the election.
In a well-defined approach, political involvement encompasses so much– candidate recruitment, election strategies, fundraising, member education, public advocacy, partisan communications, and lobbying. Some of these actions are more comfortable for some of us than others – but all are crucial – especially when we have supportive lawmakers that need our help.
It is unlikely that the credit union community will ever be the largest financial donor to a campaign, but we can assist in other vital areas that can set us apart from the rest of the crowd. One of the best differentiators that we have as member-owned financial cooperatives is the ability to engage in partisan communications with our depositors (owners). We can exercise our right to inform credit union constituents about the actions that their elected officials take to either support or harm their cooperatively owned financial institution.
So while most of us have passed the date to get on this year’s ballot, we’re not too late to make an impact on the election.
Tracie Kenyon is President/CEO of the Montana Credit Union Network, which is the Trade Association for Montana’s credit unions and credit union organizations. She is the current secretary of the executive board of the American Association of Credit Union Leagues (AACUL). www.mcun.org