IAC President Jerry White and I recently returned from a NACo meeting in Washington DC. As part of our meetings, we learned of George Washington and his leadership style. One of the traits I admire the most about George Washington was his ability to bring a group of diverse stakeholders together, listen and respect all their ideas, and then make a decision. It is this leadership style of listening, respecting, and deciding that made him the leader a newly formed nation would follow.
Respectful communication plays a vital role in good leadership and policymaking. Please take time early in the Session to reach out and make contact with your legislators. Whether it be an offer to meet for coffee over the weekend or a simple text letting your legislators know that you stand by ready to help solve policies impacting counties. Making contact now will demonstrate your leadership ability and help open communication channels that will pay dividends as the Session progresses.
Many of you are coming to Boise in a few weeks for the IAC Midwinter Legislative Conference. Use your time in Boise to meet personally with your legislators and discuss with the policies that are important to your county and county residents. Make an appointment to meet with them in their offices. Invite them to breakfast or dinner. Discuss with them the impact proposed legislation will have on your county and your constituents and be prepared to discuss with them your ideas for solutions. Be like George Washington. Listen, be respectful, and help in the decision-making process.
There will be plenty of debate over the next few months on Medicaid expansion funding, property tax relief, and revenue sharing (among many other topics). There will be divergent opinions on how to address these policies. Some will be agreeable to counties. Others will not. And while we won’t agree with every policy decision made by the legislature, let us be respectful, listen to all sides, and lead in advocating for policies that advance the interests of counties and their constituents.