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These days it seems like more pages in Credit Union Times are filled with coverage of our political challenges than in years past. Some of this focus is a normal, and sometimes necessary, by-product of our industry’s evolution. However, we’re also finding ourselves regularly dragged into the fray by a banking industry that is going to ever-greater lengths to attack us. Not all the news is bad, however. A significant and positive consequence of our political involvement is the creation of more political positions within credit unions. For years, political advocacy seemed to rest solely in the domain of CEOs, directors, or league staff. Recently, however, we have seen the energy around advocacy spreading steadily across credit union organizational charts. My own position at Wescom originally had a dual function of providing service to our core SEGs and also working with community organizations and legislators. Once that effort began, it became clear that the relationships to be developed in community and government circles were so numerous and interconnected that a full-time, dedicated political position was warranted. In the last few years, we have seen at least 10 credit unions, in California alone, create new positions or transform existing ones into dedicated government-relations jobs. Credit unions in other states are doing the same thing. Keith Leggett from the ABA had it all wrong. These aren’t “morphed” credit unions – these are credit unions taking an active role in their future rather than having it decided for them by the banking industry. Our trade associations have done a tremendous job protecting our interests, but recent visits with federal and state representatives have convinced me that all of us who advocate on behalf of credit unions need to constantly sharpen our expertise to properly combat banker rhetoric. Increasing the number of people in our industry who are ready, willing, and able to make effective arguments on behalf of credit unions is critical if we wish to continue our legacy of member service and value. Our national and state trade associations are providing more training in this area and that is very much appreciated. To those in the movement who are thinking about becoming more politically involved either professionally or personally, I encourage you to make the commitment. We must remember that our circle of influence clearly includes the political process. If we fail to exercise that influence, it may someday not be available when we most need it. Tom Orman VP Regulatory & Legislative Affairs Wescom CU Pasadena, Calif.

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