Read through these tips and tricks outlined by Alex Workman, a Carmel Senior who helped to pass a resolution in her city.
1. Create a group; find a group of kids in your community who are interested in helping you pass an ordinance or resolution. Connect with other like-minded groups, to ensure you have a source of partners and a place to bounce ideas off of.
2. Research; see what other cities have done and are working on. Look at what other states have done. Learn the difference between resolution and ordinance. Come up with a list of possible approaches to your idea. Learn everything you can about what you are asking from the city, what are the pros and cons to your idea, what will the city government not like about your idea.
3. Create a draft resolution or ordinance; you need to create the core of your project by creating your draft resolution or ordinance. State what you are trying to accomplish in your city and conduct research on how it’s affecting your city and what is your answer to the issue. Find other similar resolutions and ordinances online and use these as examples. Find local scientists who would be willing to review the technical accuracy of the ordinance and allow you to quote them or reference them in your discussions.
4. Talk to your Mayor; set up a meeting with the Mayor to talk about what the possible options are for your idea. You want to be successful, but are unsure how far the city government will go. Come to the meeting with a selection of options so that you can find the best option that the Mayor thinks is possible for passage. Stay calm and business like. Don’t be pushy during this meeting and plead with him. There are many benefits to environmental action (health, wealth, and sustainability), so you don’t need to plead for action.
5. Petition and advertise; most likely your mayor might ask you if the other citizens in the town are also interested in your resolution, so you might need to go out and get a petition signed so that you can prove that the issue matters to other citizens. Setup your petition to include the person's name, address, and contact info (phone or email). The person signing the petition must be from the district your resolution or ordinance applies to. Attend local events (4th of July celebrations for example) to get more people to sign.
6. Find a city councilor sponsor; You will need to find a city councilor to sponsor your resolution or ordinance so that it can be put on the agenda for a city council meeting. Research each councilor and find out which few are most likely to approve of your idea. You can have more than one sponsor. Set up an informal meeting with each of the counselors you choose. Meet them at a coffee shop and talk to them about why your resolution is important for your city, how it will work, and what your ‘whereas’ clauses are. Your goal is to ensure a majority vote so you will need to convince as many councilors as you can.
7. Getting on the agenda; once you have enough counselors set up to sponsor your resolution or ordinance then ask one of them to put the topic on the agenda for an upcoming city council meeting.
8. Write your testimony; You will be speaking to the council during a hearing, you will need to write why the city councilors need to pass your resolution. Explain why it is important for your city and the rest of your community. Make sure not to make it too long and straight to the point.
9. Follow the city council meeting procedures; go to your city council building and talk to the secretary and find out details about the procedures you need to follow to speak at the meeting. There is usually a form you have to fill out to speak at each meeting, this form is sometimes called the ‘Request to Address the Council’.
10. Getting it passed; wait for your agenda item to come up, they will ask you to speak your testimony (if you filled out that Request to Address the Council form first and turned it in) then the city councilors will vote on the resolution or ordinance.
11. Disagreements; there will be people who might disagree with your project. There might be city councilors who might think your law is too strict and might want to loosen it up. Be prepared to defend your resolution and answer questions with scientific facts.