What is a local resolution?

Passing a local resolution is a way for any member of the public to send a strong message to legislators that people care about an issue. Often resolutions are used to voice public opinion on a law otherwise not in the voter's hands — whether the matter be handled by another jurisdiction or protected by the constitution. Anybody can submit a resolution to any governing body, but resolutions can be the most effective when targeted at local legislators.

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How to Pass a Resolution Step-by-Step Guide

The ALERT Project has drafted template resolutions for tribes and communities to revoke pre-authorized use of toxic chemical dispersants during oil spill response, update dangerously outdated national emergency response plans for oil spills, and strengthen local involvement in preparation and response. This resolution is part of a national effort to better protect local first responders, local families and the general public in oiled communities, and our nation’s sea life and other wildlife harmed by these hazardous products.

Or read our quick guide...

Tailor ALERT’s resolutions for your community or Tribe

Form a small team to sponsor the resolution. This can be a short-term, informal group or part of an ongoing community organization. Three people is enough to get started.

TIP: Build in diversity. Consider including people from industries that rely on clean water like commercial or cultural subsistence fishing and tourism, public health advocates, medical professionals or local first responders.

Get to Know Your Local Council & Find a Sponsor


  • Find out who are the members of your local council, when they meet and how the council functions.


  • Find out what you can about the politics and interests of council members. Identify ones whom you think will support your resolution and meet with them. Ask if they would be willing to introduce the resolution and who might become co-sponsors.

    TIP: To gain support of unsupportive council members try recruiting citizens who are friends of potentially unsupportive members, gain their support first and then ask them to speak with these members and gain their support for the resolution.

Educate Your Community


  • Strategize with the sponsor(s) and your committee about ways to reach more community members. Think about clubs, congregations, meeting places, unions or other groups where people get together.

  • Draw up a petition. Use it, a) to persuade the Council that the resolution has popular support, b) as a way to open up conversations with your neighbors about the issue

  • Create a Facebook page to support your resolution campaign. Get people from your community to “like” and share it. Use it for updates on the issue and to get everyone contacting their Council members.

  • Write letters to the editor of the newspaper that serves your community to educate about the issue and the resolution. Are there local talk radio shows? Call in!


TIP: Attend a Local Emergency Planning Committee meeting to understand their roles, functions, and training needs — and possibly to recruit allies or team members.

Mobilize for the Public Hearing


  • Find out if the Council will hold a public hearing on the resolution before they vote. If there will be a public hearing, it is important to turn out as many people as you can to attend.

  • Use your list of petition signers, Facebook friends, and members of supportive groups to get people to the public hearing.

  • Make a plan for testimony. Are there particular points you want to emphasize? Who are the best people to present them? Can you anticipate arguments that might be made by opponents?

Mobilize for the Council Vote


  • Find out when your resolution will be brought up for a vote, which might even be the same day as a public hearing.

  • Get your supporters to contact their Council members, who may represent everyone as “at-large” members or may represent a particular ward.

  • The week before the vote, get your supporters to contact their Council members, who may represent everyone as “at-large” members or may represent a particular ward.

  • Turn out a crowd, as you did for the public hearing.

Celebrate Your Victory and Keep Going


  • When your resolution passes, privately and publicly thank the sponsor(s) and everyone who voted for it. Encourage your supporters to do the same.

  • Send out a news release and post it on your Facebook page.

  • Meet with the team to plan what’s next to ensure all the tasks (in the “Be it resolved” sections) are done. Keep on organizing to ensure implementation!