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Executive Letter: Make Your Voice Heard

Rose Oswald PoelsBy Rose Oswald Poels

Since the Wisconsin Bankers Association’s (WBA) inception 130 years ago, advocating on behalf of Wisconsin bankers has been one of our top priorities. WBA reaches across aisles, supporting pro-banking legislators and candidates, with the goal of advocating for and supporting the banking industry.

With Wisconsin’s general election quickly approaching in November and the primary just next week on August 9, I wish to remind all Wisconsin bankers of the importance of not only participating in these two elections, but ultimately making your voice heard on behalf of our industry.

This year, the American Bankers Association (ABA) is once again promoting their “Get Out the Vote” initiative which assists in educating voters on banking issues. I encourage you to visit the ABA’s site to make sure you are registered to vote, know the candidates on your ballot, and where your polling locations are. ABA has also created a toolkit for banks to share with employees to promote voter participation.

As we know, Wisconsin’s election battleground regularly takes the national spotlight and with candidates looking to flip the ballot for several major state offices — Governor, U.S. Senate, and some state Assembly seats, to name a few — little is expected to change this year. In addition to making your voice heard through casting your vote next week (and in November), I encourage bankers to actively participate in our advocacy initiatives in two additional ways.

Take Your Legislator to Work

As WBA’s over 100 Advocacy Officers can attest, the most effective way of advocating for our industry is to meet with legislators in person. Taking this one step further, “Take Your Legislator to Work Day” visits not only allow decision makers to hear about the great work bankers do each day in their communities but see it for themselves.

Your direct involvement in hosting legislators not only assists our elected government officials in further understanding the community banking industry and the impact legislation has on our operations, but also offers an in-depth perspective into Wisconsin’s economy as well as the successes and challenges many of our communities face.

The WBA Government Relations team stands ready to assist your bank in engaging in advocacy-related events, including working with you to schedule a “Take Your Legislator to Work Day” at your bank. If you would like to host, or learn more about hosting a visit, please contact Lorenzo Cruz, vice president – government relations, or me.

Political Contributions

WBA is not concerned with “D” or “R”, but rather “B” as in the “Banking” party. Donating to WBA’s political action funds in support of pro-banking candidates is an easy and significant way to further promote WBA’s legislative agenda and bankers throughout the state.

Wisbankpac is WBA’s registered political action committee. Wisbankpac supports pro-banking candidates throughout Wisconsin by pooling individual banker contributions in order to maximize the overall impact. The Alliance of Bankers for Wisconsin (ABW) — WBA’s state conduit — allows individuals to direct contributions to the candidate(s) of their choosing.

I greatly appreciate your past support and active involvement in WBA’s various advocacy initiatives; however, as with everything else, we need your engagement to continue at an even higher level. It would be ideal if an additional six to eight “Take Your Legislator to Work Day” visits were scheduled between now and December. Furthermore, WBA has a goal of raising $300,000 in our political accounts this calendar year, which will require greater participation than what has occurred in the past. If you are interested in contributing to WBA’s political action funds — be it Wisbankpac or ABW — or learning more about how to contribute, please visit wisbank.com/Give or contact me. Together we will continue to achieve successes for our industry!