Last week I had one of those "once in a lifetime" opportunities. In my role as Executive Director of a Non-Profit agency, I was invited to Washington, DC to talk about issues of hunger in our community. As I got off the train at Union Station, I was immediately greeted by the awesome expanse of the Captiol Building; it was an impressive site.
For two days, I received intense training and education on how to reach out and discuss these issues with our elected representatives. One of the constant themes throughout the two days is that our society is in unchartered territory; the social and political forces at play are strong and unpredictable.
And while that may be true, some of the basics remain the same. Basically, our elected representatives still depend on the input from their constituents as a major factor in the votes they cast in Washington. Over and over, we were given research showing that visits to either Washington or a local office, or even a phone call and make a difference. In fact, many representatives indicated that they wished they had more thoughtful conversations with their constituents.
I was able to put that to the test on the last day of my trip, where I had the privilege to sit down and speak with Senator Portman about food security issues. I left that discussion with a changed impression of how our elected officials work. Senator Portman and his staff wanted to hear our ideas and more importantly, the stories of those we serve.
This experience has really impressed upon me on how important is for our local leaders to continue to develop long-term relationships with our leaders in Washington and Columbus and with each other. Elected officials work better when there is open and frank dialogue; when we take a moment to cut through the labels and rhetoric and understand our own unique perspectives and our ideas.
If elected, that is the attitude I want to bring to Council; being a strong voice and a constructive listener to make our community a better place for generations to come!