JUFJer Heidi testifying virtually for the Montgomery County Council Public Hearing

JUFJ’s Montgomery County Council Testimony Guide

Thanks for being part of JUFJ’s campaigns for a more just Montgomery County. Submitting testimony to the County Council is one powerful piece of our advocacy work. This page is a resource for how to craft your testimony.

Your goal is to advocate effectively as a community member aligned with particular groups and a particular position. You don’t have to be an expert! Politicians understand that when you’re connected to a group, there are tens, hundreds, or even thousands of voters in the background along with you.

The most effective testimony is concise, specific, and personal: it should fit on one single-spaced page, clearly identify your support for or opposition to the bill in question, and make an emotional impact. An emotional story “sticks” with the reader more than facts and figures.

JUFJ member Scott Schneider offered this powerful testimony in 2019, on his grandmother’s immigration story.

As you prepare your testimony think about these questions:

  • What Jewish values shape your views on this issue?
  • Do you have a professional connection or related experience to this issue?
  • What personal story illustrates your connection to the issue?
  • Why do you support/oppose the bill?
  • How do you address oppositional concerns?

INTRODUCTION: The intro paragraph should identify the bill. It should also briefly describe who you are, what County Council district you live in, what organization you represent (if applicable) and the number of people the organization represents (if applicable), your position on the issue, thank any legislators championing the issue, and what Jewish values moved you to testify. This will vary based on your story.

BODY: Use the body to more fully present your personal story, how it relates to the proposed bill, and how passing or rejecting the bill will improve the lives of people in Maryland. What do you think will be fixed/broken by passing this bill? What would have been different (positively or negatively) if this bill had been a law when your personal story occurred?

NOTE: rebutting opposition arguments draws attention away from our coalitions’ messages and can inadvertently amplify the opposition. While JUFJ members may address these nuanced arguments when speaking with legislators in a meeting, public testimony on a JUFJ issue should not focus on rebuttals or debunking.

CLOSING: The closing paragraph should reiterate your position on the bill. Explain why you think the bill will be effective/ineffective, outcomes that the bill will achieve, etc. and end with a call to action.