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We Need to Get Political, Not Partisan, Cornerstone Credit Union League CEO Tells Annual Meeting Attendees
Wednesday, April 23, 2014 6:50 AM

Dick Ensweiler

Cornerstone Credit Union League CEO Dick Ensweiler told Annual Meeting attendees yesterday that credit union leaders need to be political not partisan.

“We need to understand and be engaged in the political process,” Ensweiler urged. “We need to make sure every elected official and every candidate for office understands credit unions. We have a great story to tell and we have to tell it. They need to understand that people own credit unions, and that communities are better off with credit unions in them.”

“CEOs…get out of your office,” Ensweiler encouraged. “Represent your credit union in the community. Get involved in the Rotary Club and in your local Chamber of Commerce. Let’s make sure the credit union message is getting out there.”

Whether we are in a legislative session or not, Mike Kloiber, Cornerstone’s board secretary and governmental affairs committee chair, added that we have to stay engaged and continue advocating.

“As my friend and colleague Reta Kahley, president of the Credit Union Association of Arkansas – a division of Cornerstone, articulated so well, “The time to engage with our lawmakers is not when we need something from them. We need to get to know them when we don’t need anything from them, and that way, when an issue does arise and we need their support, we have already established that relationship.”

Kloiber encouraged attendees to “hike the hill” in our respective state capitols, as well as in Washington, D.C.

“Our lawmakers need to know who we are and what we stand for,” he told the credit union audience.

He also urged credit unions to attend Cornerstone’s Governmental Affairs Conferences, as well as the CUNA GAC.

“Doing so sends a powerful message to our lawmakers that we are here; we are engaged, and more importantly, we are united.”

Kloiber went on to encourage credit unions to learn more about Cornerstone’s CU: R.O.A.R. initiative. R.O.A.R. stands for ready, organized, activated and respond. It is a grassroots governmental relations program that connects credit unions with lawmakers. It means staying abreast of what’s happening on the legislative front. It means attending events such as governmental affairs conferences, and it’s about responding to calls for action.

“This could mean emailing your lawmakers, picking up the phone and calling them, making a personal visit to their office, or even sending out a ‘tweet’ like we did on Feb. 25, which was ‘Don’t Tax My CU Tuesday’,” explained Kloiber.

“We cannot assume that lawmakers understand the cooperative business model,” added Kloiber. “We must do our part to educate, inform and influence lawmakers.”

Ensweiler added that we must also make sure members, and the community-at-large understands the value of credit unions.

“There are people all over the world who still don’t understand credit unions, and that is because we aren’t effective in promoting ourselves. We need to do more, and we all have a role to play…credit unions, leagues and CUNA,” Ensweiler remarked.