Advocacy in Action with Presidential Candidates, Governors, National Leaders

L-R: California and Nevada Credit Union Leagues President and CEO Diana Dykstra; California Gov. Gavin Newsom; Patelco CU CEO Erin Mendez; and Leagues Manager of Political Advocacy Heather deNecochea.
L-R: California and Nevada Credit Union Leagues President and CEO Diana Dykstra; California Gov. Gavin Newsom; Patelco CU CEO Erin Mendez; and Leagues Manager of Political Advocacy Heather deNecochea.

Credit unions have been front-and-center with several key elected and decisionmakers this fall. The California and Nevada Credit Union Leagues’ membership has maximized face time with both states’ governors, the speaker of the House of Representatives and the congressional delegation — including senators — as well as candidates for the Democratic Party Presidential Nomination.

Advocacy is always in motion, and the more face time with key elected officials, the stronger they receive the message.

Beginning with “Hike the Hill” in late September, the Leagues and the Credit Union National Association (CUNA) hosted the speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi (D-San Francisco), along with the California and Nevada House freshman representatives at the Credit Union House in Washington, D.C. Those attending “Hike the Hill” had an opportunity to interact with the speaker. Pelosi commented on the importance of credit unions in the marketplace and how vital they were (and are), especially during the federal government shutdown earlier this year.

Roughly a month later, the California League arranged for League Board Chairman John Cassidy, who is CEO of Sierra Central CU, to attend a private roundtable meeting with Republican House Leader and Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-Bakersfield) at the home of Rep. Doug LaMalfa (R-Chico). During the forum of roughly 25 attendees, Cassidy was able to sit front-and-center with McCarthy, where the congressman was quick to remind the group of his strong affiliation with credit unions.

Later that week, Leagues President and CEO Diana Dykstra, Leagues Manager of Political Advocacy Heather deNecochea, and Patelco CU CEO Erin Mendez attended a small intimate dinner with California Gov. Gavin Newsom. The private event allowed for a free-flowing conversation about issues that included Newsom recognizing the importance of credit unions in their communities, especially in the area of affordable lending.

Lastly, with Nevada being the first presidential caucus in the West, the Nevada Credit Union League was invited to participate in a major candidate forum that included all Democratic Party presidential candidates.

During the evening, League Board Chairman Scott Arkills (CEO of Silver State Schools CU), WestStar CU CEO Rick Schmidt, and Boulder Dam CU Advocacy Specialist Sue Longson were joined by Leagues Senior Vice President of Advocacy Bob Arnould and Leagues Vice President of Federal Government Affairs Jeremy Empol at the candidate forum. Included at the forum were Nevada Gov. Steve Sisolak, U.S. Sens. Catherine Cortez Masto and Jacky Rosen, the Nevada House democrats (three of the four representatives), as well as many statewide officeholders and members of the Democratic Party. The group interacted with all the leading candidates throughout the evening — it was an evening to remember!

“Exposure is everything in politics,” Empol said. “Being present with officeholders and candidates is incredibly important in a system where everyone and every group is seeking leadership, whether it is today or tomorrow. Having the attention of presidential candidates, national party leaders, governors and senators even for a few minutes always leads to broader conversations, which builds momentum for our issues.”

“In summary, the Leagues have generated considerable access to our state and national leaders, putting credit unions front-and-center — as they should be,” he said.

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