Aging and Advocacy: We’re All In This Together

ADS staff and advisory council members visiting State Rep Eric Pettigrew in his Olympia office

You may find it of interest to know who is speaking for Aging and Disability Services (ADS) in Olympia. It’s not ADS employees (unless they choose to do so on their own time). They are City of Seattle employees and City ethics rules prohibit them from taking part in political activity while on City time or using City resources. ADS staff remain politically impartial and transparent, even as they advocate for individual client needs within the system.

That’s where we come in—the Seattle-King County Advisory Council on Aging & Disability Services (or ADS Advisory Council). We develop our own legislative agenda and ADS is a member of the Washington Association of Area Agencies on Aging (W4A) and the Washington State Senior Lobby. W4A and the Senior Lobby craft legislative strategies throughout the year.

On January 30, W4A held a lobby day in Olympia. On February 20, the Senior Lobby holds their lobby day. ADS Advisory Council members as well as members of the Mayor’s Council on African American Elders participate in these events, meeting with individual legislators and sharing their perspectives on Aging Network issues. They also attend town hall meetings and special meetings with state legislators and members of Congress. They are passionate advocates for ADS clients as well as for ADS staff and the work they do!

There’s power in numbers and we are fortunate to have hardworking partner organizations that also schedule advocacy or lobby days. AARP Washington scheduled four lobby days this year (January 21, February 4, February 18, and March 3). PSARA’s lobby day is February 6. The Alzheimer’s Association’s advocacy day is February 18. Various retirement groups also hold lobby days. And those are just a few of the organizations. Countless individuals and organizations advocate on behalf of Area Agencies on Aging and our community partners.

What can YOU do?

  • Get informed. Follow the links above and learn what our community partners are doing.
  • Become familiar with issues and strategies that the volunteers on the ADS Advisory Council use to influence decisionmakers.
  • Advocacy 101: Every Voice Makes a Difference,” an article I wrote last fall, is a good read.
  • Look up your legislative district in They Represent You, a directory of elected officials published by the League of Women Voters. You’ll find your legislators’ e-mail addresses there.
  • For people who prefer to use the telephone, call the toll-free Legislative Hotline at 1-800-562-6000. It’s easy—all you need to say is your name, your address (so they can send one message to all three of your legislators), and the bill number or topic you support or oppose.
  • Talk with family, friends, and neighbors about issues that make a difference to you.
  • Use social media to promote your position.

We’re all in this together. Every voice really does make a difference.

Ava FrisingerContributor Ava Frisinger chairs the Seattle-King County Advisory Council on Aging & Disability Services, which publishes AgeWise King County. She welcomes input from readers via e-mail ( as well as applicants for open positions on the council. For more information, visit

Photo credit: Photo at top shows ADS Advisory Council member and Advocacy Committee chair June Michel; Age Friendly Coalition co-chair Edna Daigre; and Mayor’s Council on African American Elders vice-chair Cynthia Winters, who met with State Rep. Eric Pettigrew (37th District) on Washington Senior Lobby Day in 2019. They are accompanied by ADS planners Jon Morrison Winters and Karen Winston. Photo by Lorraine Sanford, Aging and Disability Services.

This article originally appeared in the February 2020 issue of AgeWise King County.