We are deep into the 2016 election cycle. Whether you are voting for Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton, or a third-party candidate, it’s difficult to avoid the incessant news coverage where a sniffle during a debate turns into a Twitter handle.

On average, our readers tend to lean to the right. The HVACR industry is, at times, conservative in nature, and business policy obviously is of the utmost importance when considering a candidate. It was no surprise to me when I took a peek at our presidential poll on www.achrnews.com and saw that Trump was grabbing 58 percent of the votes while Clinton had only 27 percent. The poll saw Libertarian candidate Gary Johnson gaining 12 percent and Jill Stein of the Green Party checking in at 3 percent.

But this is not a column to tell you whom to vote for. I am fairly certain there is no way to change people’s minds at this point, even if I wanted to — which I don’t. This is a column to tell you not to get so caught up in the national election that you forget about the local elections.

The importance of the top-of-the-ticket candidates should not be diminished because they will make big decisions over the next four (or possibly eight) years. Items like tax rates and governmental regulations will play a huge factor in how a contractor runs his (or her… don’t want to be called a sexist) business. It is important to know the issues and vote in a way that will help you and the business you run. However, as I have preached before, contractors should put just as much research into what candidates at the local level believe because these people have a much more direct impact on how an HVAC contractor’s business will operate on a day-by-day basis.

Admittedly, this is a bit harder and takes more research. Your city council candidates are not on the NBC Nightly News each evening, nor are they featured on Fox News Sunday. This is where a candidate’s website or the local community newspaper comes into play.

Or simply pick up the phone. Local officials tend to respond when a business owner in the community places a call.

If you, a small business owner, call your congressman, you will get a nice form letter in return. If you raise concerns to your city council, there is a pretty good chance you will get a phone call, and someone on the other end will most likely listen to your point of view.

Use that opportunity to educate these people on the HVAC industry and small businesses. What these elected politicians can influence is how easy it is to do business in their cities. Are the regulatory and licensing hoops you must jump through so burdensome that it is affecting your bottom line? They can do something about that. Do they enforce the laws they have on the books or do they not invest the resources needed? If they don’t, and you are one of the good guys playing by the rules, you are fighting with one hand tied behind your back.

So keep up with the national scene and pool your time/resources together with the aid of associations like ACCA and Heating, Air-conditioning, and Refrigeration Distributors International (HARDI). But don’t forget about the local guys. Read the candidates’ literature, ask questions when they come campaigning at your door, or just schedule a time to go in and meet them for yourself.

Publication date: 10/10/2016

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