ATTENDING A TOWN HALL
Occasionally you’ll hear of an opportunity to attend a Town Hall meeting or other public event (parades, groundbreakings) with your legislator, or you’ll decide that an issue before the City Council or School Board merits your participation. These events are terrific opportunities to press your issues directly with a public official – and to attract media attention to your cause. If you do choose to attend such an event with other Indivisible: Conejo members, here’s how to make your presence most effective.
At Town Halls, council/board meetings, and other official events:
- Prepare several questions (5 to 10) for yourself and your group to ask. They should be sharp, succinct and fact-based, ideally including information on the official’s voting record or previously stated positions. Focus on a minimal number of issues for maximum impact.
- Arrive early, and spread out! Don’t dress similarly, or stay together in a group; sit or stand in pairs throughout the room, to reinforce the impression that your views have widespread support.
- Be friendly and respectful... When the legislator opens the floor for questions, raise your hand politely and keep it up. The friendlier you look, the more likely you’ll be called upon. Ask your question with a smile, or at least without too much malice.
- But be persistent! If you don’t get the substantive answer you’re looking for, ask a follow-up and demand a real response. If someone else asked the question, don’t be afraid to boo the response, or applaud the questioner. And if a staffer tries to take the microphone from you before you’re satisfied, hold it tight!
- Support your fellow questioners. Applaud questions that reflect your views. If your question builds on someone else’s, point that out, reinforcing broad agreement with your perspective.
- Record everything! Assign someone to use a phone or video camera to record the proceedings. An unfavorable exchange caught on tape can be devastating to a public official. We can share the footage via social media or with the local (and even national) media.
At unofficial events:
- Hold the hosts accountable. If a local business or nonpartisan organization – the kind that hates bad press or controversy – is hosting a politician who IS offensive, reach out to the group in advance and express your concern about the event. If they persist, use social media to express your disappointment, so they’ll think twice about doing it again.
- Arrive early and make your collective presence known. Have your group dress in similar fashion, or wear bright colors. Stand together, so you stand out!
- Be prepared to interrupt, and demand to be heard. Making contact with your elected official at a parade or ribbon-cutting can be tricky. You likely won’t have a microphone, but that doesn’t mean you can’t get your message heard. Keep that message simple; if necessary, coordinate a chant to capture attention and even drown out your legislator’s own message until she/he agrees to hear yours.
- Record and share. Take photographs and video so that we can share them on social media, and with the local papers and television stations.