February 10, 2020

CEO Message: We are in it Together

Your Chamber Works Hard to Create Results with the Choice of Voters

It has been a particularly long week for followers of public policy and elections. In conversations all over the community, I’ve heard from voters who are tired (exhausted really) with so much of the political process. Whether it is voting disfunction in the primaries, forgoing common decencies at the State of the Union address, or concerns about state policy – people seem to be disappointed when our elected leaders don’t live up to the basic etiquette of the offices they occupy.

Before you read any further, please keep in mind – the Round Rock Chamber does NOT endorse candidates, nor do we give campaign contributions to candidates, and we are non-partisan. No exceptions. We hold true to this policy strongly, because we feel it is one of our most important missions to work with elected officials and other government staff at all levels to help create better outcomes for businesses, communities, and families.

The voters put people in office. We work with them. Ultimately, we seek to provide a common ground where policy makers can come to find workable solutions to keep economies and communities moving forward.

The tides of our changing media environment have made finding common ground more and more difficult. Online message boards, social media, and other online spaces have often failed to become the “marketplace of ideas” many had predicted and rather have turned into large glass houses from which the anonymous can throw rocks at each other.

In a small way, at a local level, your Chamber is working to cut through it all. Our policy team and our board leaders are entirely focused on how best to inform and support elected officials to create policy that preserves a positive business climate in Round Rock and all of Texas. We believe that leads to opportunities for all individuals and families to pursue their own dreams here and provide for themselves and their families as best as they can.

As we head into this season of party platforms, delegate counts, and election year stagnation, I wanted to take a moment to remind Round Rock of our core goals when it comes to policy advocacy:

  1. Make sure our local, state, and federal delegations (and their staff) are aware of our policy positions, which have been developed and approved by the Chamber board.
  2. Help educate them on the potential benefits, or negative consequences, that proposed polices may have on the community of Round Rock or the business climate here.
  3. Advocate for policy solutions as directed by the board.
  4. Create opportunities for Chamber investors and community leaders to hear from elected officials.
  5. Respect everyone who serves in public office, those seeking elected office, and the other staff and professionals involved.

That’s it. It’s simple really. We proudly work with whomever the voters send to office and do our best to create good outcomes with them.

As exasperating as policymaking and elections can be, I still feel so fortunate to get to do this work in a place like Round Rock. In my short time here, I’ve gotten to know many elected officials. People who are very interested to understand the Chamber’s perspective and who work with their colleagues (even through disagreement) to help their constituents.

In Texas, a handshake still means something: a show of respect, a commitment on an agreement, or just a willingness to work together. Here in Round Rock, we have a fantastic team, all moving in the same general direction to create economic prosperity for all. That takes intentionality and is not easy. But we have the example of so many community leaders who served in the past to follow. Those city fathers (and mothers) have made the kind of investments in the past that have created this engine of prosperity that we enjoy today.

Right now, our policy team is reviewing and updating our Agenda for Economic Vitality. It is the foundational document that articulates all of our policy positions and reasoning. We have included the perspectives of policy experts, some elected leaders, other business organizations, and business leaders of BOTH large and small Chamber investors. Once completed, we will use it as a guidepost for future advocacy efforts, and we are excited to share it with elected representatives and the community at large.

Serving in any elected office is always difficult, and often thankless. If you are tired or frustrated with the state of politics, I’d like to encourage you to do something radical … thank someone that is serving. Thank them for the time it takes, and undergoing the challenges that public elections create, all to serve their constituents. Those conversations may not solve all the issues that we face but are a great way to remind everyone that we are in it together.



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