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President's Message

October 6, 2016

President's Message

Advocacy – we have dipped our toe in, how deep should we go?
With the presidential election weeks away, I am sure some are either feeling like they are drowning in politics or others as engaged as ever and fully submerged. Fortunately, we get to live in this great country where we can choose how to participate and have the ability to influence political issues that are important to us as public works professionals. Where ever you are personally, our MN APWA Chapter is planning to take another step with advocacy. We are hoping some of you will be willing to challenge yourself and help us take action when we need to.

Dipping our toe in
MN2050 was created by our Minnesota APWA chapter and 17 other professional partners, to provide information and media tools to professionals to convey to the public the message of the importance of infrastructure. Last year, Mn2050 committee asked APWA and their other partners to get more politically active and attend neighborhood caucus groups. Some of us did this! The best take away from the effort was that we know there are people willing and interested in participating. (The survey and results can be seen at http://www.apwa-mn.org/userfiles/files/SM_Exec_Summary_Results_050316%282558%29.pdf.

In addition, our Environmental Committee has been at the table with Metro Council on important local water issues. And last session, with support from National APWA and the Central States Water Environment Association (CSWEA) the committee worked to promote the passing of legislation regarding flushable wipes. These experiences helped us to realize that we have a responsibility to advocate for those issues that affect our profession. In addition, many have realized that APWA members have a voice that people will listen to and respect.

Often, we are the first to see the outcomes of policies on public infrastructure and local communities. We are important stakeholders in transportation, environment, sustainability, emergency management and other issues, not to mention infrastructure funding. I think we owe it to ourselves and our policy makers to hear from public works professionals and help them make informed policy decisions.  

Getting waist deep?
I think we can get even better at advocacy. It could mean a variety of activities; keeping a list of State and National issues on a watch list, having a list of volunteer’s that are willing to testify at legislative hearings, or willing to meet with policy makers, working behind the scenes with volunteers, creating sample letters for legislative contacts urging critical votes on public works issues to name a few.

The good news is, National APWA has government affairs staff and an advocacy team and tools set up for use by Chapters. They are coming to our town on December 1, 2016 for a 1.5 hour educational training session on advocacy. This is a terrific professional development opportunity for all types and ages. Look for the invitation and get it on your schedule!

We can be proud of our Chapter for so many reasons, getting behind our responsibility as advocates seems like a perfect next step – I believe we even have the ability to dive right in!

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