Bring the Message Home

Advocacy Guide for Municipal Officials

Why Your Involvement Matters
To be an effective local leader, you must recognize the role the State Legislature and other parts of State government play in regulating and funding local government operations. To that end, you need to ensure your legislators understand and appreciate the importance of your community to its residents, what is necessary to improve the quality of life and economic growth within your boundaries, and why a partnership with the State is essential. Furthermore, your representatives in the Senate and Assembly may not fully understand the impact that a legislative proposal or policy may have on your community and your residents unless they hear about it from you.

Legislative tracking
The NYCOM Legislative Action Center allows you to easily stay on top of legislative activity, providing you with the ability to:

• See what bills are of greatest importance to cities and villages and understand NYCOM's position on such bills;
• Search for bills by topic, bill number, the legislator who introduced the bill, bill status, and activity;
• View the Legislative Calendar which includes information on days in session; and
• Find your legislator along with contact information including phone number, email address and district office location (see side bar). 

Communicating with your legislators – Developing a relationship with your legislators is crucial to the success of your advocacy efforts. When you do connect, make it a point to thank them for their efforts prior to discussing your issue or asking for something. As a public official yourself, you know how much work it takes to serve your community.

Understand and explain the issue – Before you talk to your legislator, make sure you fully understand the details of the issue you wish to discuss. Not only should you be able to convey your side of the issue, it is helpful to know any counter arguments that may exist. Connect the issue to your role and how it may affect your city or village. Use stories, numbers, and statistics to support your point.

All politics is local – Make sure your legislators understand the local impacts of a bill or policy. Be as specific and as factual as possible. Don’t be afraid to frankly state your opinion on legislation that may affect your city or village.

Timing is everything – Contacting your legislator to urge them to consider the municipal point of view does no good if the votes have already been cast. Pay attention to NYCOM's Advocacy Updates as they will keep you apprised on the status of bills and let you know when action is needed.

Making contact – Face-to-face contact with your legislator is always the best way to get across your point. However, making a phone call is the next best means of communication. A personal letter or an email can also be effective when it is short and contains specific details about how the issue affects you and your community. Be sure to identify the bill by number and subject. There are, after all, thousands of bills introduced each session.

Follow-up – If a legislator asks for more information, provide it as soon as possible. Don’t hesitate to contact NYCOM staff for any assistance you may need.

Use the media – The media can be a very effective tool for both conveying your position and communicating with your legislators, as well as the public. Legislators read their local newspapers and electronic media. Consider writing a thank-you note in the form of a letter to the editor in your local paper, writing an opinion piece or seeking an interview opportunity to get your point across.

Media advocacy tactics include:

• News conference
• Press release
• Opinion editorial
• Radio talk show
• TV talk show
• Social media
• Passage of resolution

The bottom line is your involvement can make a difference. It is our belief that the greater the number of our member local officials that actively participate in our advocacy efforts, the greater chance we have at getting the Governor and the State Legislature to provide the resources and support we need to make our communities and our state the best that they can be.