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“I think the pendulum is starting to flow back to our side,” Stephens submits. “Some of those that were on the wrong side of this issue are understanding that public safety is going to be a huge issue in the upcoming cycle.”
The mission statement, then, for ratcheting up political ac- tion comes down to one important point, according to Merck.
“We are now in the position to save this city,” he declares. “And the people who are going to help save this city are the members and their families.”
PAC talk
Lodge 7 did a test drive on its political action plan in 2020 and learned some valuable lessons. Since then, the committee has been formulating a strategy that is ready to roll. And rock.
To accumulate a war chest, the Lodge will try to accrue $1 million per year for PAC funding. But the plan will not be to dole out donations to favorable candidates.
In fact, the Lodge has decided to stay away from giving mon- ey to individual candidates and contribute more toward mail- ings and in-kind subsidies. They want to prevent giving money to one candidate who, in turn, pays it forward to a candidate who is not necessarily in favor.
“We feel that we were burned in the last election cycle with that particular tactic,” Merck details. “And so politics is such that we have to be very careful with how we spend the hard- earned money members entrust to us. This is not money that we’re going to throw or flush. It’s money that we’re going to take careful consideration, so that it’s used appropriately.”
With careful consideration filtering decision-making, the plan will target perhaps 10 races that can be won for aldermanic seats and another 10 state rep and senate races the Lodge thinks it can have some impact on. Getting candidates on the ballot in those races will require petition-signing drives, which have to
start now as opposed to when the weather gets warmer, which is the way it used to be.
Signers don’t typically come out in the cold, so the plan will need to make use of members knocking on doors for signatures. Enough signatures will help overcome any number of perfunc- tory challenges to candidates’ petitions, which often come up in a targeted race.
Volunteers knocking on doors will continue all the way to ear- ly voting, when members will need to post a presence at voting locations. Retired members working as election judges will also be an asset to ensure fair and honest elections.
“As we’ve heard from any number of historic figures, it’s not a matter of who votes as much as a matter of who counts the votes,” Merck notes.
Whether members have the energy and motivation to exe- cute the plan will be the big question. Have they been beaten up badly enough with requirements at work that they want to put an end to the battery?
“[Legislators] want to hear our voice...and this is amplify- ing that voice by being politically engaged.”
Lodge 7 Lobbyist Dave Sullivan
“So, that comes to the psychology of each individual officer. And each individual officer is in a different spot in life, with young officers, old officers, family, no family or coming from different cultural backgrounds,” Merck reasons. “And so how do you march 10,000 people into war when they have different ide-
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