Community associations are a marvel in democracy exercised on a small scale. They are a reflection of our greater democratic system and often deal with many of the same issues that our elected government officials deal with on the larger map.
Whether your community is actively involved in self-governance or you are seeking ways to inspire more interest in difference-making within your community, one powerful decision is to invite elected officials to community activities.
Elected officials often enjoy being among their constituency and hearing concerns or ideas from communities. At the same time, the power to bring an elected official to your events can instill the importance of self-governance in your community members, who may be inspired to become more involved.
There are several good reasons to bring the right elected official to your community activities and the benefits to be gained.
1) An Elected Official Can Inspire Democratic Member Involvement
An honored guest is a great way to boost involvement in your community. More community members will attend an event for the chance to meet an elected official. They may have concerns to share, be curious about what the official will say, or just enjoy directly meeting someone in local government.
In addition to higher attendance, you may also notice a renewed inspiration to become part of the association's democratic process. Discussing possible community changes and sharing ideas with an elected official can remind members about the core value of living in a homeowners association: Self-governance.
2) Ask Them to Speak on Important Local Matters
Often, elected officials will agree to attend events when the matters at hand are close to their heart and their platform. Local officials can come as hosted speakers to discuss with your community why certain legislatures (regarding community-relevant items) must be the way they are and also where there is room for change if people decided to get involved in the matter.
They may lay out a road of future changes that will make life better for your community or speak on matters that affect everyone, like schools and zoning policies.
3) Convey Community Issues to a Local Decision-Maker
Having an elected official at your community event is also an opportunity to share concerns from the community. If there are local laws or policies that are hindering property enjoyment or if there are regulations that should go in to make communities safer, elected officials will hear out each person with an idea to share and may realize how important these matters are to local communities like yours.
In fact, hearing your concerns is a big part of why elected officials agree to attend community events in the first place. They want to stay connected to their constituents and continue proposing changes that benefit their body of residents.
4) Elected Officials Make Excellent Party Guests
Lastly, elected officials are diplomats at heart, and they typically make delightful party guests. Whether invited as a speaker or simply an honored guest, the elected official you choose will circulate through the event, shaking hands, listening intently, and telling interesting stories that will liven up any party, barbecue, or meeting.
For however long the official is able to stay, they will be the center of attention and often the life of the party.
Hosting an elected official can become an important moment in your association's event schedule. The official will naturally draw more attendees and help you address key issues both inside and outside the bounds of your community.
Be sure to reach out to several officials and be considerate of their busy schedules. Be ready to coordinate and for the official to depart after a set amount of time.
It’s important to note, however, that in order to keep clear lines about what is and what is not association business, we recommend having them participate before or after the official association meeting is called to order or after it is adjourned.