Pizza, politics and learning the political process

Tim Sheehan | Globe SLCC

Tim Sheehan speaks at SLCC about the importance of becoming involved in the political process.

Students, faculty and staff gathered for pizza and politics Friday, Jan. 20, 2012 in the Oak room at the Taylorsville Redwood Campus.

Tim Sheehan, Salt Lake Community College vice president of institutional advancement and former state director to a senator addressed the audience on ways to effectively communicate with state legislators and get involved in the political process.

“We’re coming up on the season when we’re going to elect new officials,” said Sheehan during his speech. “That process for getting involved in the political process and having a say in that starts now. If you’re not familiar with how the process works, now is the time to really start to get engaged in it.”

In light of the upcoming elections and with the recent social media windstorms over bills such as the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) and Protect IP Act (PIPA), more people are getting involved in the political process and are contacting their local representatives with their concerns.

This event was to help those interested to get engaged and involved in issues that they are passionate about.

Power from passion

Sheehan explained and detailed what that process is and how it works. He gave tips and strategies on how to communicate with local officials.

Tips for getting involved:

  • First, identify your local representatives here
  • Contact them before session starts, not just during the session
  • Be honest, provide accurate information in the right context
  • Attend legislative meetings, hearings and caucuses
  • Be informed and inform others
  • Vote for candidates who support your views
  • Campaign for the candidates you like
  • Recruit good people to run for delegates or run yourself
  • Fill out surveys from your state legislator

“The best thing you can do is make it personal,” said Sheehan. “Send in your own story. Tell your own story. Don’t rely on just ‘Hey I’ll be on a mailing list with 800 other people’, because often times legislators and officials will just ignore that.”

Sheehan expressed that students can be influential in the political process and that legislators will often times listen to students and what they have to say.

He said to share your personal story, whatever it is you feel most passionate about. Whether it’s SOPA/PIPA, energy or environment bills, use that passion, go through the political process and be engaged with legislators.

Right now, he says, is the best time to get involved.

“Using social media to talk about the issues and encourage legislators is becoming a trend,” said Sheehan. “There are lots of forums out there through social media in which you can share your views with legislators and have common discussions with others that might share your views.”