If you expect to be effective in local politics, you have to know the rules and procedures.
If you expect to be taken seriously on issues, you can’t afford to lose credibility by not knowing the rules and procedures. A good opponent will know all this information. Don’t let them outmaneuver you on procedure because you didn’t know the rules of combat.
Controversial issues will no doubt have multiple steps that must be followed. Sometimes there will be formal Public Hearings; other times there will be less formal public input opportunities.
If you are going to be having an interest in a particular issue, find out what exactly the rules and process will be.
1. What committee(s) will be reviewing the issue?
Decisions are not made at the Board level. By the time most controversial or big issues reach the governing body the final outcome has been predetermined. The hard work and tough decisions are made at the committee level. It is critical if you expect success on your issue, that you make sure your input is provided at the earliest possible opportunity. That is at the committee level. If you don’t know which committee(s) will be reviewing the issue, ask. Someone will be able to tell you.
2. What will be the responsibility of each of these committees?
One committee may focus on policy or procedure and another on financing. You need to know the responsibility of every committee that will be reviewing your issue. There may be only one, but find out for sure. If you don’t know, what do you do? You ask.
3. When will they be meeting?
Committees at times have set days of the month they meet. Other times they meet on an as needed basis. You can’t make up meetings. You need to be there. If you don’t know when the meetings will be held, what do you do?
4. What is the timetable from start to finish?
How long is this issue going to be discussed and reviewed. Some issues take months. Others move very quickly. The decision makers do have some idea of how long they expect before a final decision is reached. Ask them. That will determine your urgency to plot strategy.