First-timers dive into advocacy
Edited by Jane Goldenberg
One of the best things about Zoom meetings is that they make attending meetings that otherwise would require travel far easier. As a result, we got lots of first-timers advocating for the Clean Energy Jobs Act during our Nov. 12 Lobby Day. Here are their stories.
We first met with Rep. Mark Walker, D-Arlington Heights, then, the next day, Sen. Ann Gillespie, D-Arlington Heights, both co-sponsors of CEJA. The confidence of one of my team members landed me the job of delivering the elevator speech. My entire team and the training session really helped me understand the process and how to do this. I modified the elevator speech so that I could hit the key points and connect it to my own experiences and my own expertise. My team leader and another member of our group helped me by reviewing this ahead of time. After the first meeting, I asked for input, which was helpful, and my team agreed I should deliver the same message the next day with our senator.
I felt we were sharing new information with Walker, and Gillespie wanted to give our team information on what she felt could help move us forward, which was to educate legislators who are not co-sponsors.
It was a great experience, and I hope to be able to do this again. I think I will reserve judgment on our impact after CEJA is passed!
This was my first Lobby Day. I almost signed up last year but working as an immigration paralegal this administration has been known to throw curve balls at us on a weekly basis. So having it be virtual was so much easier, as I was still able to work and in some ways save on our carbon footprint by not driving down to Springfield.
I was quite nervous going into the day but being in a meeting with a few neighbors put me at ease relatively quickly. I was shocked to see how each of the representatives we spoke with were so relaxed and candid with us. It made me wonder, are they this way in person, too? They really showed that they wanted to hear our stories. As a political science major, I have worked for various local representatives in the past and, by comparison, I was really pleased with how personable they were. I noticed Rep. Jonathan “Yoni” Pizer was taking notes as we each told our stories. I was also surprised to see that Pizer seemed to remember some of the people on our call when they mentioned they had met him before.
Now I cannot wait to join in on more meetings. It was truly a rewarding experience. It was also nice to get “to do” ideas for the next few months, such as reaching out to family and friends in the suburbs who might reach out to their representatives who don’t support CEJA.
This was my first Lobby Day, but I was aware of it in the past from my wife Jennifer’s involvement. I liked speaking to Rep. Lakesia Collins, D-Chicago. I think it was good to draw attention to CEJA and show her that the bill has broad community support, especially because she’s a newly elected official. She was very receptive to our message and had questions for us.
But I was disappointed that Sen. Patricia Van Pelt, D-Chicago, was a no-show, and my own neighborhood Rep. Jawaharial Williams had a conflict. I think it was worthwhile and plan to do it again. And my hope is next time to get a meeting with our representative.
Add your voice to advocacy!
And if you haven’t already written your legislators and the governor, please do so now! Here are a couple of links to help you get this done: for a form letter and a guide to help you compose your own letter, which is always preferred!