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National Association of Counties blog post
Arthur Scott, Rachel Bennet, ISAC  
August 26, 2015

Counties Connect America: Strengthening a Nation Together

See more at: http://www.naco.org/blog/counties-connect-america-strengthening-nation-together#sthash.XUWRJKny.dpuf

The National Association of Counties (NACo) brings together county officials from across the country to advocate with a collective voice in front of Congress and the Administration. Collectively, our nation’s 3,069 county governments employ 3.3 million people and spend over $482 billion annually delivering critical programs and services to residents. With almost 39,000 county elected officials representing over 305 million residents – county officials understand first-hand the challenges facing our nation.

While every “community” has a unique set of symptoms and subsequent prescriptions - we believe the core of any governing body requires a strong federal-state-local intergovernmental partnership. By recognizing the strengths of our partners and understanding how policy and procedure impact our ability to effectively govern, we coalesce around a common bond – our constituency. The very same people that elect our nation’s county officials each year will also take to the polls next November to pull the lever for our next President. Understanding the importance of a strong intergovernmental partnership is pivotal for all levels of government as we are tasked to represent the very same people.

To help convey importance of this intergovernmental partnership and the role counties can play to help move this country forward, NACo created the “Counties Connect America” initiative. This initiative will utilize the 2016 U.S. Presidential election cycle as an opportunity to educate and collaborate with our intergovernmental colleagues campaigning for the White House. NACo has developed a number of materials and resources for county officials to utilize during engagements with candidates on the campaign trail. NACo recently unveiled the Counties Connect America hub containing resources and information including a brochure with “Why Counties Matter Fast Facts” and a social media tip page with sample share lines and photo albums of county officials engaging Presidential candidates.

As we enter primary season, candidates are focusing much of their attention on first-in states like Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina and Nevada. Through this initiative, NACo will be working with our state association partners to create candidate engagement opportunities on the campaign trail.  Our members and state association partners have already taken a strong lead in bringing this message to the various campaigns in their home states. 

The Iowa State Association of Counties (ISAC) and county officials from across Iowa have been working throughout the summer to spread the message of the Counties Connect America initiative with candidates as they visit local coffee shops, hold town hall meetings, and visit the Iowa State Fair.

ISAC has also provided members with the necessary tools to engage presidential candidates about counties and the initiative. ISAC has developed an initiative page on their website that includes handouts, editable letters, a survey tool, and talking points. ISAC sends a bi-weekly email update to  members with a schedule of candidate events and an initiative progress report. Additionally, ISAC staff and members have formed a leadership committee to attend specific events and make pointed contacts with candidates and campaign staff.

ISAC will also host a Presidential Candidate Forum during the 2015 Fall School of Instruction (annual conference) in November in conjunction with the initiative. We have invited all candidates to speak to our membership about how they plan to work with counties when leading the nation. The forum will immediately benefit our members, and the relationships being formed through the initiative and the forum will allow counties to be a partner of the next president in the White House.

This initiative, however, it not limited to any particular state or region and will rely on county officials from across the country to deliver this important message. Our goal of strengthening the intergovernmental partnership crosses all state lines and extends further than any one campaign season.  For more information on this initiative or to learn how to get involved, please visit the Counties Connect America hub at www.naco.org/countiesconnect or contact Arthur Scott, Associate Legislative Director, at (202) 942-4230 or ascott@naco.org.

See more at: http://www.naco.org/blog/counties-connect-america-strengthening-nation-together#sthash.XUWRJKny.dpuf