Guide to Getting a City Council Resolution in Support of the Religious Freedom Peace Tax Fund Bill Passed in Your Community
Bringing a resolution before your local government is probably easier than you think and anyone can do it.
The following is a simple guide to getting a City Council Resolution passed in your community. A City Council Resolution campaign is not a "one size fits all" type of effort but the following are ideas to get you started.
- Gather a Coalition to Support the Effort
- Survey Your Council
- Gather Signatures of Support
- Identify Council Member Allies
- Hold a Public Education Event
- Outreach to the Media
- What to do if you face resistance in your council?
- Further Tips
Gather a Coalition of Local Organizations to Support the Effort
- Many communities have existing peace and justice coalitions. If a coalition does not exist in your community, a City Council Resolution campaign is a great opportunity to launch an effort to amass the power of different groups and constituencies against the war. Think outside the box! Gather a host committee with representatives from different constituencies including faith-based groups, students and youth organizations, peace and justice groups, sympathetic business groups, groups that work on poverty, immigrant groups, racial justice organizations etc. Call a first meeting to launch this idea.
Survey Your City/Town Council
- If you are unsure about where your City Council stands on this issue you may want to start by surveying the Council so you can assess who are your allies, swing members, and those that will pose a tough challenge. Call each office and ask the Council Members (or their staff) if they would generally support a Resolution. This effort can be divided amongst different organizations. Make sure there is a point person who is collecting the results of the survey to report back at the next meeting. Develop educational resources that make clear the economic benefits of the resolution and why the issue is the business of a city council.
Gather Public Signatures
- If you already have a resolution draft in mind that you would like to have the Council pass you may want to spend some time gathering petition signatures from the Council Peoples constituents. This will help leverage Council Members' support and may help in getting similar language passed by the Council instead of a watered-down version. Ask the members of your coalition to each collect a stack of signatures.
Identify Council Member Allies
- Identify your strongest ally(s) on your City Council and set up a meeting with him/her to discuss introducing a resolution. Bring education packet to share with them including talking points against the war, copies of City Council resolutions from other communities, and signed petitions. Ask the Council Person(s) to take the lead in garnering the support of other Council Members. Ask the Council Person to approve the language in the draft resolution. This process may take a number of days and a fair amount of negotiating.
- If the Council Person agrees to take the lead, set up a follow up meeting with the Council Person's aid. To secure the support of other council members and to move the process along swiftly it is often easier to work with aids.
- If the Council Person is not willing to lead the effort to get a resolution passed, first assess the reasons why. Is it that the resolution you presented would prove impossible to get secure support? Is the Council Person afraid to take the lead on this issue? Depending on the reason you may want to try some of the following paths:
- --Try a different member of the council.
- --Plan actions to target the member.
- --Negotiate on the draft resolution language (see sample resolutions and other City Council Resolutions).
Set Up A Public Education Event or Town Hall Meeting
- At any point in this process you may want to consider setting up a public event in your city to garner wider support for your initiative, to bring more citizen power into the effort, and to build the peace movement in your city. If there are forums or teach-ins already planned you may want to just work with the organizers of those events to get on the speaking docket and invite the public to your next planning meeting. One way bring City Council Members into this effort early is to set it up as a "town hall meeting" where you have a panel of people presenting the various arguments for (and against) the resolution and a panel of Council Members and citizens listening and asking follow-up questions.
Outreach to the Media
- The easiest way to make the resolution effort appealing to the media is to draw the direct impacts on your city. The National Priorities Project is available to help you crunch the numbers on how much war will cost local taxpayers in your community. This, combined with the budgetary crisis facing many cities, makes a great hook for press.
- A public education event or action is a great opportunity to inform journalists about your campaign. If you are not holding a public education event, consider holding a press conference featuring City Council Members leading the effort and diverse members of your Coordinating body or coalition. If you don't have allied Council Members you may want to plan the media outreach around an action designed to target the Council Member and expose their unwillingness to support this effort. You may want to hold a Candle Light Vigil at their home or conduct a sit-in at their office.
- Draft a press release and send it to your local and regional press.
- If a Resolution passes successfully don't forget to do follow-up media work. Hold a press conference and claim a victory for peace.
What to do when a City Council Resolution will not pass (or even get introduced) in your city
- It will prove almost impossible for many cities to pass a resolution. The following are some alternative options for expressing the support for peace in your city:
- If you have any allied Council Members ask them to circulate a general letter to other members and other officials in your City Government including the Board of Education, the Mayors office and other municipal departments. Any expression you can obtain in support will help the national effort.
- You can also try different bodies in your city such as University Resolutions, Labor Union local resolutions, Parent and Teacher Associations, or other Civic bodies.
- If you have a sympathetic Mayor in your city, ask him or her to issue a statement.
- Keep track of other local government resolutions as they pass, especially in the state in which you are working--added together, these can be a formidable force.
- Work to keep community pressure on local and state legislators.
- Find your allies on the council and strategize! Try to ascertain who might vote against the resolution and how she or he might be swayed.
- Understand and use to your advantage the ways in which the issue most negatively affects your town/city/county in particular--pay attention to dollars.
- Know what other districts might be influenced by your town/city/county's council passing a resolution.
- Establish a relationship to a council member who both supports the resolution and is willing to work along with you to get it passed.
- Get informed and authoritative people to speak out for the resolution
- Make sure to keep the issue in the press--op eds especially help to get people talking and debating.
- Send out a press release when the council passes the resolution—this will help the resolution to have a wider impact.
- Alert the media right away if the resolution is passed.
- Make sure that key state and nationally elected officials get sent a copy of the resolution.
- Make sure to be well informed of the support surrounding the issue--i.e. get a copy of the resolutions of other local governments.
- Work to gather grassroots community support prior to the vote--educate people on the issue.
- Get people out for the vote! This puts the pressure on swing voters.
- Make sure to line up knowledgeable and passionate people to speak out in support of the resolution.
- Work to have personal contact with your city council members as the proposal goes through.
- Go to your City-Council website to find out when meetings are to be held
- Find out which Councilmember represents you and what committees they are on
- Find out who the Council President is and gauge their support
- Determine the procedure for filing a complaint
- Become acquainted with your City Hall, inside and outside, so you will feel comfortable lobbying/demonstrating there