Your coalition might consider sponsoring any of the following activities or events:
Invite public officials and/or candidates to visit your transit system and meet passengers by riding on public transportation or inviting them to a special event or ribbon cutting ceremony. Include a reception, informal briefing and tour of your facilities. Encourage employees and coalition members to attend and provide an opportunity for them to ask questions. Public officials and candidates are often looking for media coverage and these events provide excellent photo opportunities.
Sponsor a forum or small town meeting for public officials and/or candidates to discuss public transportation issues. Invite coalition members and supporters, local officials, your transit system board, community and business leaders, passengers and the media to attend and participate. If an elected official and/or candidate sponsors such an event, plan to attend with other coalition members and ask about public transportation issues.
Speech to Employees
Public officials and/or candidate are often looking to address large audiences on issues of importance. Invite key local officials and/or candidates to address your employees on the importance of public transportation. These events provide excellent media opportunities and offer your employees the opportunity to meet leaders that they would normally only see on television.
Public Transportation Conference
Your coalition might consider hosting a conference at a local college or university on the future of public transportation. Invite key public officials, community leaders, academics and transportation experts to speak at the event. This provides an opportunity to secure the support of public officials on the record, and gives officeholders a chance to address the public about how they have helped promote public transportation. Your audience could include your transit board, riders, community leaders and the media.
Voter Registration Drive
Voter registration drives are an effective tool for involving your supporters in the political process. Voting registration laws vary from state to state, so be sure to check with the Federal Election Commission (FEC) for more information about the forms that are necessary in your area. (The FEC Web site is www.fec.gov.)
Tips for Hosting a Voter Registration Drive
- For an effective campaign, solicit volunteers from your organization to sit at tables in high-traffic areas, such as a light rail system during rush hour, supermarkets, shopping areas, etc. You may have to obtain a permit to gain access to certain locations.
- Order a banner with a slogan such as Get Involved: Vote! You also may want to display a few balloons to attract attention.
- Make sure to have the necessary registration forms, plenty of pens, and a box for the completed information. Depending on your community, you may want to have materials in different languages.
- Have materials on public transportation available to educate your community.
- Submit the completed forms to the appropriate government agency.
"Meet the Candidate" Night
One effective way to expose your coalition members to important candidates is to host a "Meet the Candidate" Night. This event also provides a forum for candidates to reach important constituents and learn about issues that are critical to your community.
Tips for Hosting a "Meet the Candidate" Night
- Solicit your key coalition members for a date and time that is convenient for the majority of the group. You also may want to identify a master of ceremonies for the event.
- Select a location for your event. Hotels are often convenient and have the necessary audiovisual equipment. Wait for candidate confirmation before signing a contract.
- Invite your candidate(s). You may have to be flexible with your dates to secure a commitment. Make sure you can provide a location for the event before agreeing to a different date.
- Provide your candidate(s) with background papers on your key issues. Also, let them know what is expected of them: a speech, debate, informal remarks, socializing with guests, etc.
- Invite your guests. If you are planning a dinner, limit your guest list to 20 people so you can have a more intimate event that will allow for more in-depth discussion. For a reception or other public forum, invite as many people as possible. Request RSVPs, keeping in mind when your final count needs to be submitted for food and beverage purposes. Allow 1-2 days for follow-up phone calls.
- Order audio-visual equipment, if necessary. This may include microphones, and/or sound systems, depending on your event.
- Prepare nametags for all participants. It makes it easier for candidates to introduce themselves.
- Advance the site one last time to ensure an adequate and easy set-up.
- Make sure you have a candidate’s biography photocopied for participants as well as an introduction written to make it easier for the master of ceremonies.
- Assign one attendee to take photographs of the event. Make sure to feature them in your coalition newsletter.
- Have a sign-in table set up so you can provide a list of attendees to the candidate after the event.
- Prepare thank-you letters to the candidate and all who helped.