Oftentimes when we think of government, we focus on the federal government – but there are plenty of local governmental offices that can significantly impact your community, like your city council or county authorities, school board, water district and special districts. Additionally, state senators, representatives and governors also heavily influence how our associations function.
That’s only one reason why it’s time to get to know the people in these offices if you haven’t already. Below are six other reasons that introducing yourself to local and state officials can benefit your community.
- Engagement with your surrounding community
Getting to know local politicians will help you learn more about local issues and needs – and when you know more about the problems facing your city, county or state as a board member, you can encourage your community to make a difference. Your association could partner with a local agency, office or governmental body to hold an event to improve the surrounding community, like a park clean-up, fundraiser for the local animal shelter, or even a simple blood drive. Giving back in these ways is also an effective way to increase community engagement.
- Timely information
Cities and counties are often working on projects that impact HOAs, such as road construction, changing streetlight bulbs and more. By knowing the people in charge, you’ll find out about these projects sooner and help your association get ready for them, minimizing the inconvenience they cause homeowners. If the city is working on the main road leading into your community, you can time construction on your community’s roads to happen before or after the city project. And regularly speaking with officials isn’t the only way to stay in the know: sign up for newsletters and notifications and encourage homeowners to do the same. Oftentimes cities only communicate with the association, who then has to communicate with homeowners, so encouraging residents to stay informed speeds up the flow of information.
- Better strategic planning
If you take the time to keep up with the latest developments that are happening nearby as well as the officials working on them, you’ll also be able to maximize their benefit to your community. For example, you can tie association projects into city projects. If the city has hired a company to do cabling, you can partner with them at the same time to complete the wifi installation project in your community – but it’s only possible if you have a relationship with your local government.
- Cost savings
With the help of the right contact, your board can partner with local utilities to complete projects at a lower cost. If the city is already replacing the light bulbs in its street lights, it won’t cost them much more to replace the ones in your community, which means your association could pay less for increased efficiency.
- Chance to influence laws
There’s no reason to stop at the local level when it comes to building relationships with officials; getting to know state officials is also worthwhile. If you get wind of legislation that would negatively affect your community, contacting your state representatives as a board member and explaining your concerns could have a powerful effect – especially if you’ve taken the time to establish a relationship and build rapport in the past.
While a board member’s primary role is to fulfill their fiduciary duty to their association, it’s important to remember that associations don’t exist in a vacuum. From budgeting and engagement to legislation and more, it’s clear that building relationships with state and local officials can make a tangible difference to your homeowners and their quality of life in your community.
About the Author
Wendy has served Associa PCM for more than 23 years. She has been a member of the Community Association Institute (CAI) since 2005, serving as the Orange County chapter president in 2009. Bucknum earned the prestigious Professional Community Association Manager (PCAM®) national designation from the CAI as well as the organization’s national Governmental Affairs Award in 2011. In 2016 she received the May Russell Hall of Fame Award, Orange County CAI Chapter’s top honor.More Content by Wendy Bucknum