Advocacy At Work

WA Veterinarian Magazine

by Candace Joy

Sept/Oct 2014

I enjoy writing about politics, precisely because it can be a thorny subject in which I hope to foster greater understanding with regard to the WSVMA. Politics finds many of us in opposite corners, some passionate about our philosophy, some apolitical, and many just plain tired of the system and its inherent divisiveness. But rather than using the word politics, let’s call it advocacy, because that’s one of the primary reasons the WSVMA exists for you.

Over the last 50 years, WSVMA’s particular brand of advocacy has gained us passage of several important bills as well as prevented a lot of bad legislation. Our “brand,” if you will, is made up of several important parts. Our legislative advocate, Greg Hanon, has built a solid reputation in Olympia for nearly 30 years and guides us in all issues when dealing with state and local officials. Our Political Action Committee, supported by your donations and managed by members, determines which candidates receive campaign donations to ensure we have their ear when we get to Olympia. Our brand is also you – our members – who deliver campaign donations to candidates and brief them on our issues or make important calls, send emails, or pay visits to their legislators. I also count as part of our brand, one of our own in the legislature, Dr. Kathy Haigh from the 35th district in Shelton. Her legislative colleagues rely on her for the veterinary perspective and she’s been instrumental in moving our issues forward.

WSU/CVM and the WA State Association of Veterinary Technicians (WSAVT) are both included in our brand as well, as we have worked together on issues important to veterinary medicine as it affects our profession, our technicians, faculty and students.

Advocacy also encompasses working with related stakeholders such as other organizations, industries or businesses. We may not always agree with them, but we can come together to accomplish a particular goal.

Our work with King County Council on the pet licensing issue is a fine example of advocacy at work. So far, we’ve been effective in averting their plan to force mandatory reporting. The success we’re enjoying is because of our brand – a concerted political effort of our members, our local organization, PSVMA, clients and staff. It’s a fine example of working together towards a common – and important – political goal.

You’ve often heard me ask you for donations to the WSVMA-PAC so that we can continue our successful work with the state legislature. We have to have an active PAC if we want to be effective on bills that affect the profession or the animals we treat. A healthy WSVMA-PAC gives us political credibility, access to relationship building, and opportunities to help elect candidates who understand veterinary, animal and small business issues.

Interestingly, with more members renewing their membership online, it has caused a decrease in the amount of PAC donations we receive. The decrease in donations has unfortunately affected the amount of contributions that we can give to candidates in the general election this year. As you renew your membership, please take an extra moment to include a donation to the WSVMA-PAC. Donations can also be accepted anytime during the year and can be handled online or by staff over the phone. Your annual contributions will make all the difference when we work in Olympia this year and in future years.

– Candace Joy is the Executive Vice President at WSVMA. She can be reached at candacejoy@wsvma.org.

“Since 1985, our members have saved the profession over $20 Million.”

“The WSVMA is the only organization that legislatively advocates for veterinarians in Washington state”