Many of our Chamber members hear the words ‘Political Action Committee’ and immediately recoil in fear. For some reason it is almost like using a four-letter-word that, until recently, was banned from television! Actually we are a pretty nice group of people who get together monthly to discuss the political positions our organization should take that would best support our members’ concerns. Seems fairly straightforward and mild when I put it that way, right? But it is a lot more involved and focused than I make it seem. Here is what we do.
Our mandate is to independently evaluate candidates running for City Council, and sometimes for County Supervisor, and decide whether they should be endorsed by our organization, the PAC. Sometimes we weigh in on legislative matters as well. In our pursuit to decide which candidates to endorse we interview each candidate prior to the election and stage a public forum where the candidates can meet and present their goals and promises. This personal attention to each of the candidates not only allows us to vet them but also forms an ongoing relationship with those who are elected. As members of the business community you want the PAC to have its hand on the pulse of the city, and we Trustees of the PAC make sure that happens. You are focused on running your individual enterprises while we focus on the overall business environment of the city and how it will effect each of you! This is an indispensable symbiosis, which too many members just take for granted. We often here statements like, “Well, how does the Chamber feel about such-and-such regulation?” or “Does the Chamber support the new fill-in-the-blank tax?”, etc. Who is it that is involved in that decision? You guessed it, the Political Action Committee. We make your wishes known to the City Council through the elections process and periodic meetings with Council Members and City Staff and then follow-up with the PAC members during the year with monthly meetings to discuss the Chamber’s agenda.
It seems obvious that the members of the Chamber of Commerce should want a seat at the table in all things the city does that affect the local business climate. Unfortunately many Chamber members take this for granted and are not contributing to the cause. Years ago the PAC membership fee of $50 was presented on the Chamber membership renewal invoice in a way that made it clear that PAC membership was a default component of overall Chamber membership and that if a member did not want to support the PAC then they would have to specifically opt out, whereas today Chamber members have to specifically opt-in to become a member of the PAC. During an invoice streamlining process, PAC membership became an add-on and not so obvious, which is unfortunate. As a result the PAC’s capital has dwindled quite a bit, which to a degree has diminished the impact we can have on elections and legislation. We are an all-volunteer group, and the PAC membership monies are used solely to support candidates who support the free enterprise system, fiscally responsible government, and whose views represent the interests of both the private and public sectors of the economy and to produce the candidate forums and related signage. We do a lot with very little money. We know that an ever-increasing number of groups are clawing for your money every day, especially the government. You need an advocate in your corner, and that is what the PAC is with regard to the Chamber’s agenda. I hope you will agree that it is vital that we continue to have the ear of the City Council, and with that in mind we could truly use your financial support.
Greg L. Meier, DDS