In the past few weeks, your Chamber staff team has been systematically meeting with candidates for public office. Any one who will take some time to speak with us, irrespective of party or past experience – if you are running for a governing body representing some part of Round Rock or Williamson county, we either have called on you or will be soon.
Amy Mizcles, the Chamber’s vice president of community enhancement, and I began our outreach to all candidates for seats on the Round Rock Independent School District board. We’ve worked our way through many Round Rock City Council candidates and are reaching out to those running for Williamson County commissioner seats and elected offices at the statehouse.
This formal process of outreach and engagement is in furtherance of the Chamber’s mission to foster relationships with whom ever the voters place in office. In order to help create good policy with our partners serving in elected office, it is important to know them as early as possible and begin to create awareness and expectations around the issues we advocate for on behalf of the business community.
Recall that our organization does not endorse or fund candidate campaigns. We don’t even rate candidates. We do attempt to make the policy positions and preferences of the business community clear during the election process. For some seeking office this year, the Chamber is a totally new organization with which they have never had any contact previously. These have been perhaps the most helpful dialogues for several candidates who’ve never considered the business community’s broad interest in issues related to education or community development for example.
It is strong, institutional partnerships that have foundationally supported so much success and growth in Round Rock and the region. We’ve been careful to ensure candidates have an opportunity to learn about this as they consider public office. Collaboration between the business community, the city, the county, K-12 and post-secondary institutions, and community service organizations have given our generation so much. And it is up to our generation to foster these collaborative instincts to better our community even more.
Working in business policy for a non-profit, I’ve been a very engaged (if non-partisan) voter for years. Perhaps it is because of the impact of coronavirus or simply the still new ubiquity of Zoom – but in this election cycle I feel even more connected to those seeking office than in past elections. It has been a different experience having to rely more on conversation than the more typical reading positions and sharing articles as I’ve done in the past. The ability to sit with someone (or video conference with them) has made it much easier to focus on the core relationship and policy positions of the Chamber, with more people running for elective office.
This year it is also difficult to not notice how privileged we are to work for an organization that makes such outreach and connection so easy. Candidates have generally welcomed a policy conversation with the Chamber. I anticipate they would also be happy to hear from their own constituents and voters in their respective districts too. If you have an interest in, or a concern about, the positions of your elected officials – I want to strongly encourage you to contact them and ask for a conversation. If this is a new experience for you, especially if this is a new experience for you, I anticipate you will find it a helpful experience.
Finally, I will leave you with this. Please, please – register to vote, research the proposals of candidates, and be sure to vote as early and safely as possible to ensure your voice is heard. The ramifications of the choices made by these people – particularly those at the local level – will be directly felt by you, your family, your business, and your employees.