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Real work begins after elections

It’s been said that “elections have consequences,” and that saying is very true. The reason it’s true is that the decisions made by the people we elect have consequences.

This year’s elections were hard fought. From the top of the ticket to the very bottom, people with opposing views made their case to voters. Now, a new chapter begins. People elected or re-elected to office must begin to develop their ideas from the campaign trail into viable public policy.

Those public policy decisions will impact all of us. These elections will impact decision making, profitability and what employers can provide in terms of salaries and employee benefits. And as always, those public policies will too often pre-determine winners and losers in many sectors.

Some of the ideas that come our way will be things you like. Others will be things you hate.

As I talk to business owners, they always have a lot to say about politics. Unfortunately, too many choose to tell everyone other than their elected leaders what they think and what new laws and regulations mean to their business. That passive-aggressive style doesn’t serve anyone.

So, as the next sessions of Congress and the state Legislature near, it will be important for business owners to talk about the consequences of legislation. That does not mean they should call their legislator and launch into an expletive-laced tirade.

Create a thoughtful dialogue with concise points and practical examples.

I’ve always found that legislators are careful to listen to what constituents have to say. They might not always do exactly what you wish, but they recognize that it is important to listen and be accessible to people in their district.

While there is a paid lobbyist out there for just about every sector one can imagine, relying on lobbyists will get people only so far. Every association and trade group around will admit as much.

Our elected officials need to hear from the people they represent. They need to understand that people in their state, district or ward can offer valuable perspective that they might not otherwise have considered.

At the same time, pay attention to what your chosen organizations have to say. Get the best points available to deliver your message – and then go talk to the people who matter. Reach out to your local elected leaders. Tell your story. Make sure they know the impact their decisions can have on you and your employees.

Now is not the time to wipe your brow and thank goodness the elections are over. It is time to roll up your sleeves and get to work. Your legislators are called “representatives” for a reason and your task is to make sure your representative is representing you.

John Killin is president of the Associated Builders and Contractors’ Pacific Northwest chapter and executive director of the Independent Electrical Contractors of Oregon.

About John Killin