The city of Menlo Park is searching for two consultants: one to represent the city interests in Washington, D.C., as a lobbyist and another to analyze the city's communications efforts and recommend how to improve them.
Requests for proposals for both positions closed Sept. 8.
The preferred term is "legislative advocate," rather than lobbyist, said Peter Ibrahim, a management analyst for the city of Menlo Park who authored the requests for proposals.
But the purpose is the same: to establish relationships in the nation's capital so that when the city needs something, whether it's to set up a meeting with federal officials or to make a grant application or funding request, it has better connections with those in power.
Having more influence on legislation and acquiring funds available to local governments are two priorities for the city, Mr. Ibrahim said.
Hiring a lobbyist would also jump-start a process to establish just what the city's federal agenda might be.
The selected firm would help the city develop strategies to get funding for big transportation and infrastructure projects; schedule meetings between city officials and members of Congress or federal administrators; and coordinate an agenda with other organizations, cities and companies with similar legislative goals.
The firm would draft letters and talking points on legislation, testify on behalf of the city at hearings before legislative commitees, and give at least annual briefings to the mayor and city staff.
The city is also seeking a consultant to audit the city's communications strategies and to recommend improvements.
The city uses a number of platforms for spreading information: its website, weekly digests, NextDoor, Facebook, Nixle, Instagram, SMCAlert, Twitter, the city YouTube channel, live-streamed public meetings and special meetings.
Despite that, Mr. Ibrahim said, residents say they don't know about something going on until it's too late.
The city's last approved "community engagement" and social media policies were drafted in 2010.