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We’re approaching peak campaign season for the 2016 election. While the presidential contenders are getting the most attention, other candidates are also vying for your vote. Fourteen states will elect governors this year. Thirty-four states will elect a senator. And every congressional district — all 435 of them — has a House race on the ballot.

These state and national races are an opportunity to practice the relationship-building advocacy that leads to change. Your governor and members of Congress make daily decisions that impact your life and the policies the U.S. government pursues. And as representatives of your community, they are more accessible for you to influence.

What the candidates hear on the campaign trail influences their view of the electorate and what will be expected of them when they take office.

Raising issues of concern with candidates, especially at in-person events, is important. What the candidates hear on the campaign trail influences their view of the electorate and what will be expected of them when they take office.

“Getting direct contact with candidates for office is the best way to make an impression and a lasting impact in the way they behave if they get elected,” says Joel Rubin, a former congressional candidate, in the monthly briefing for FCNL Advocacy Teams.

What’s more, your participation at these events can create openings for future interactions and build a relationship. “When you make an impact at a candidate event,” says Rubin, “you get into the mind of the candidates. When members and candidates see you participating in the full political process, they really pay attention.”

FCNL Advocacy Teams: Relationships at Work Two FCNL constituents from Utah, Carol Cremer and Carolin Cady, know first-hand how fruitful these in-person interactions can be. Last year, at a town hall meeting with Rep. Mia Love in Salt Lake City, they had the chance to ask a question. As members of FCNL’s Advocacy Team in Utah, Carol and Carolin were looking for opportunities to connect with Rep. Love to build a meaningful relationship.

The two followed up with the representative, and Carolin even received a personal thank you call from her after the event. Yet this summer they were struggling to get a response from her office about a visit request.

That’s when they ran into Rep. Love. As they tell it:

“We had a chance meeting with Congresswoman Mia Love at the Salt Lake City airport. We approached her, and she recognized us from the town hall meeting from a year ago. She was happy to see us. We knew time was short so Carolin handed her a business card and on the back had written that we’d like to schedule a visit” on sentencing reform.”

Rep. Love gave them her direct number in case they had any further difficulties. Just a few days later, they had their meeting scheduled.

Carol and Carolin’s work with their Advocacy Team meant they were prepared for this random occurrence and ready to give Rep. Love information right there about the sentencing reform bills they wanted her to support. The groundwork for this interaction, however, came from their in-person interaction during a question-and-answer session.

Your candidates are holding town halls and other public events this summer and fall. They are paying attention to what people like you are saying. Are you ready to practice your advocacy and work for change?