This year Memphis, Knoxville, Nashville, and many other cities around the state will hold elections for their key city officials--mayor, council, etc. Next year the country elects a president.
We all have gut feelings about candidates and those matter.
We must also develop our policy I.Q. when we're assessing candidates. What do we need? What will they try to do? And what can realistically be accomplished? These three questions help get us to smart policy questions, conversations, and finally to an agenda.
A lack of policy focus puts us behind. Vague hopes of inclusion do not accomplish inclusion. We need specifics so we can shape the conversation and, therefore, the outcome.
The Past is a Guide: Being friends with candidates and liking them is a fine thing. In itself, it is an insufficient recipe for advancing policy. One need look no further back than 1999 and 2003 in Nashville when our community hoped a candidate who went on to win would help our community with a non-discrimination ordinance. It didn't happen...for a number of reasons. But we can contrast 2003 with 2007 and 2011 when the policy conversations were clear. The result? Two non-discrimination ordinances and a partner benefits ordinance. One sees similar results in Memphis and Knoxville where vital policy conversations took place.
COMING SOON: In late April, TEP will announce our municipal policy agenda for the next four years so that we can shape conversations as our members and allies look for candidates to support in key city races.
Ask your candidates questions. And ask questions that come within their scope of authority. A city council cannot bring marriage equality to a state. It's great if a candidate is supportive of the issue. But we need to ask local officials about things they can do something about. And we look forward to doing just that!