If you want to create a business-friendly climate in your community, you can vote for candidates who support your issues and hope they win. Or, you can recruit and train those candidates to successfully campaign for public office.
The Master Builders Association of King and Snohomish Counties (MBA) in Washington state has been offering a campaign school for several decades to help pro-business candidates run effective campaigns at various levels of government in the Puget Sound region.
This year, the MBA expanded its efforts and launched the Evergreen Campaign Institute (ECI), in partnership with a local utility and the Rental Housing Association. The six-month program covers a range of important topics, including state government and legislative issues; grassroots training and organization; mock campaigning; leadership development; and message and media training.
The institute, which began in January, has 12 participants, including small business owners, recent college graduates and local board members looking to increase their skills. At least two of ECI’s graduates will be running for the Washington State House of Representatives this year. Others are considering running for local city council and school board seats.
“We are very proud that one of our past graduates is now a Washington state senator who sponsored key legislation that allows for the administrative approval of plats, saving builders in some cases as much as three months in permit processing. This success alone has proved the campaign institute’s tremendous value,” said MBA Executive Director Kat Sims.
For other HBAs that may be interested in setting up similar programs, the key is to “focus on quality presenters and foster lively interaction among the participants,” said MBA Senior Policy Analyst Allison Butcher, who helps run the institute.
A recent ECI class included a presentation from Michael Bezruki, NAHB’s director of grassroots programs, who stressed the importance of grassroots tactics, including opinion leader files, volunteer action and candidate endorsements.
NAHB offers a state and local advocacy training program to help HBAs develop their own advocacy efforts and political activities. NAHB’s Guide to Building a Successful Local Advocacy Program provides guidance and key steps to establish your HBA as a leader in your community.
If you are interested in setting up a training program at your HBA, contact Michael Bezruki, 202-266-8542.