Vice President’s Message

Damon Kurtz
PORAC Vice President

As PORAC’s vice president, I am tasked with recruitment and retention. I often write about the positives of being a PORAC member, describing the benefits of our trusts: LDF, IBT and RMT. Another area where PORAC is truly effective is advocacy. I have mentioned this in previous articles, but it seems to be a topic that comes up often. It’s probably one of the most important roles we have in representing our member associations, and it is also one of the most misunderstood by individual members. When speaking of advocacy, we are talking about politics — which are so divisive in today’s society, and it is no different for our membership. As association leaders, we must represent our association and not our personal politics, which can be particularly difficult given the political climate. What I mean by this is that PORAC and your local association cannot be seen as Republican or Democrat. The goal of law enforcement labor has been to protect the benefits of our members, as well as to ensure safe working conditions for them. In the current environment, it is becoming increasingly challenging to do both. We often receive pressure from our members to support candidates or causes that may fit their personal politics but are counterintuitive to the overall goal of the organization. In many cases, there is a belief we should not be involved in politics at all. This is the reality of association leadership.

The reality is that politics are part of every facet of our lives. It starts at home with our family, lobbying for who sits where or who gets the last piece of cake. It carries over at work, lobbying for which assignment we get and so on. This is no different than the local association lobbying its agency or government for a better contract, or PORAC lobbying for or against legislation.

Advocacy is probably the single most important thing we do as association leaders, and it is overwhelmingly where President Marvel and I spend the most time and effort. You will often hear me say, “You are at the table or on the menu.” Advocacy is a nonstop job that doesn’t end at meeting with your elected officials. It is being involved at every level possible. Politics is about building relationships. An obvious place to start is with your relationships with elected officials, but the principle extends to other groups in your community. Who else influences your elected officials — other unions, the chamber of commerce, the Lincoln Club? Advocacy does not stop when the meeting is over; it carries over into our personal lives. It often continues after hours and on weekends, when we are with our families. It takes a lot of time and effort to develop the relationships and reputation necessary for an organization to be effective in its advocacy. It can take years to build and can be lost in the blink of an eye.

This is what makes PORAC’s efforts so successful: years of intensive advocacy and building relationships, with both elected officials and other groups. The hard work of current and past PORAC leaders and our representatives at Aaron Reed & Associates has ensured that we will have a strong voice in our Capitol. We will continue to work hard and represent you, but we need your help as well. Stay engaged with your local association and at the chapter level. Ask questions and make sure you are informed before you rush to judgment.