Rural Oregonians deserve a seat at the table at every level of government. There are many ways to get involved in local and state politics, from knocking on your neighbors’ doors and chatting with folks about what’s on the ballot during election season, to sitting down with your state representatives to share what your group wants them to prioritize when they go to Salem. Not part of a group? Check out the map of Rural Organizing Project human dignity groups and reach out to ROP to get connected to one in your area! Here are a few ways to can take action:
Meet with your legislators:
The 2023 legislative long session started on January 17th. Now is a great time to call your state senators or representatives! Invite them to your next group meeting to discuss the bills you want them to champion in the legislative session!
- Select a few dates that will work for your group to meet with your state legislators.
- Choose a group member to call your legislators and schedule a time to meet. Your legislators’ contact information can be found here, on the Oregon Legislature website.
- Decide how to share your group’s legislative priorities and agenda. Are you particularly concerned about health care? indigenous language accessibility? Something else? Talk to your legislators about your concerns! Here’s a list of priority bills we’re tracking this year. Do you have bills you are excited about? Please send them our way at firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Set an agenda for the gathering. (Consider this sample agenda).
- Be sure to send a thank you card after the meeting.
- Consider what other elected officials your group might want to meet with. Are there new city councilors or county commissioners with whom it would be especially strategic for your group to have a relationship?
Recruit candidates for local offices
Recruiting and training candidates who are going to hold the line around human rights when they’re in office is an important way to make sure our democracy works for our whole community! To get on the May 2023 ballot, candidates must declare their intention to run between February 4 and March 16, 2023. For a list of positions up for election, contact your county elections department.
1. With your group, make a list of community members who you think would make great candidates. Here are a few suggestions to start that brainstorming process!
- What qualities are you looking for? For example: Who shares our values? Who has stamina?
- Make a list of people you know who have these qualities! This is the time to cast a wide net; don’t avoid putting someone’s name down because you think they might say no. Anyone’s name is good for this list; no need for discussion or crossing names off yet.
- Once you’ve generated a long list, it’s time for discussion and narrowing down! What do you know about each person? What would make them a good candidate? Once the list has been reduced to a small number of “best prospects” that your group is excited about, you’re ready to move on!
2. Ask the people on your list if they would consider running for the position you have in mind.
- Make a plan for who in the group is asking each prospect. When will they ask them?
- Take some time to make a plan for how you are going to approach each person. Many of these people may never have considered themselves as potential candidates.
- Have a one-on-one conversation with each prospect! Check out our tool on how to lead a strong one-on-one meeting. The keys are making a real connection with the person, providing clear context, asking directly, creating space for real dialogue, and following up!
3. Did one or more of the people you reached out to say that they are interested? Now you can support them in figuring out their next moves!
- If the person wants to get more informed before making the commitment, encourage them to attend local public meetings, read the notes from recent meetings, and meet with other local officials to learn from their experience.
- Why does the person want to run? Ask them to write it down! This will be helpful as they start thinking about their messaging to the community.
- Have a conversation to assess how prepared the candidate is, what support they need, and what it will take to win!
- If the position you want them to run for feels like too big of an undertaking, encourage them to apply for a position on a local board or advisory council where they could build skills and experience before running for a larger office!
4. Tell us how it went! Email email@example.com to let us know how recruiting candidates went, and what you learned. We would love to share your story with rural organizers across the state!
These suggestions come from Redmond Collective Action as well as this candidate recruitment one-pager from Wellstone Action. Do you have other recommendations to share? Please contact firstname.lastname@example.org!