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Advocacy is a team sport

​Advocacy is a team sport for the Municipal Association. Part of the team involves a variety of municipal officials along with the Association’s staff. Another part of this team is often partner organizations that share similar issues or have similar goals.

Depending on the issue, these partner organizations change frequently. Plus an organization considered to be a team member this week might be on the other side of an issue next week.

Regardless of this ever-changing line-up, the process of cultivating long-term relationships with these partner organizations and understanding how their issues fit in with the Association’s goals are very important pieces of the Association’s advocacy strategy.

For example, during the 2015 session, the Municipal Association and the SC Press Association shared a common interest in passing legislation regarding a change in the Freedom of Information Act. The Association’s staff worked side-by-side with the SC Press Association’s staff to meet with legislators and draft legislation that would require an agenda for regular meetings. A state Supreme Court ruling had determined that an agenda for a regularly scheduled public body meeting wasn’t required by state law. Both the Municipal Association and the Press Association believed the law needed to be changed to make it clear that an agenda must be required.

The two organizations collaborated well in advance of the 2015 session to draft a bill that met the goals of both organizations.

"While the Press Association and the Municipal Association may have differing views on some issues, we will usually talk them though so each side understands the other’s concerns," said Miriam Hair, executive director. "Often we can find middle ground on an issue before a bill is even introduced because of the long-standing relationship between the two organizations."

The two associations have worked closely together on both legislative issues and training for many years. This FOIA legislation is just the most recent example of how a long-standing relationship between the Municipal Association and the Press Association meant getting legislation passed that met the objectives of all involved.

"The ongoing process of building trust between organizations that often share interests or constituents is so important in today’s political environment," said Bill Rogers, long-time executive director of the SC Press Association. "It’s rare that one organization can build legislative support for a big issue without enlisting the support of other organizations that share its interests. An ongoing process of building these relationships that can be activated when needed should be an important part of any organization’s advocacy strategy."

Rogers will join Ted Pitts, president of the SC Chamber of Commerce, and Bill Ross, executive director of SC Fix Our Roads, in a panel discussion at Hometown Legislative Action Day to discuss the issues their organizations will be following this session and the value of partnerships and coalitions in legislative advocacy efforts. The meeting will take place on February 3 at the Columbia Marriott.

View the entire schedule and more information through the Association’s app.

The deadline for hotel reservations at the Association’s discounted rate ($149 plus taxes) is Sunday, January 10. Monday, January 18 is the preregistration deadline for both the Hometown Legislative Action Day and the Municipal Elected Officials Institute (held on February 2).