While working in the City of San Fernando on reducing youth access to tobacco products, I received an e-mail from The Center for Tobacco Policy & Organizing announcing Local Legislative District Days. I, being fairly new to the tobacco control world at the time said to myself, “I wonder why they want us to meet with our representatives in their local office when we already met with them in their Sacramento office?” Well, soon I found out why Local Legislative District Days is so important.
The week of Local Legislative District Days arrived, and we had a meeting with Assemblymember Felipe Fuentes’ District Director, Gerardo Guzman, in his district office. The meeting went great, and we were able to educate Gerardo Guzman about the youth access to tobacco problem in the City of San Fernando. We shared our alarming youth purchase survey results ( 38.5% of retailers in San Fernando were willing to sell tobacco to our youth!) and educated him on the current tobacco retailer license for the city.
Gerardo was very interested and supportive in our efforts to reduce youth access to tobacco products in the City of San Fernando. We built a great relationship with him from this meeting and we invited him to join our local coalition. He attended our local coalition meetings regularly, and when the time came to present to the San Fernando City Council, he attended our city council presentation in support!
In addition, he was able to provide us with a letter of support on behalf of Assemblymember Felipe Fuentes in support of the City of San Fernando adding a fee to their current Tobacco Retail Licensing Ordinance to fund enforcement and administration.
By meeting with Gerardo Guzman, Assemblymember Felipe Fuentes’ District Director, during Local Legislative District Days we developed a great and lasting relationship with him which has proven to be invaluable.
Therefore, if you are thinking to yourself, “I don’t really have the time to meet with legislative staff during Local Legislative District Days,” I encourage you to re-think your thoughts, because you never know what relationships can develop as a result of Local Legislative District Days meetings