The best time to contact your legislators
Things may seem pretty barren in the political sphere right now, but that doesn’t mean that your representatives aren’t listening. Now is the perfect time to contact your legislators (click here to find out who they are) because they are not consumed by the work that takes place during the legislative session. If you want to make sure your legislator will be responsive to your views during the session, you need to make sure they know who you are. Representative Mary Margaret Oliver has suggested that constituents make contact during three specific periods in order to make themselves and their viewpoints memorable.
1) Contact before the session
Before the session starts legislators have more time to meet with and respond to you. You can call and make an appointment to speak with them in person or simply send a personal email. Simply reach out to them and identify yourself. Make sure you include where you live in their district and what issue is most important to you (do this in every communication). This is simply an opportunity to let them know a little about who you are, and that you are an engaged citizen. It doesn’t have to be long or involved. You can even ask what their preferred form of communication is so that you can use this method in the future.
2) Contact during the session
During the session legislators are incredibly busy doing what you elected them to do: make laws. But that doesn’t mean that they don’t want to hear from you. Make sure that you initiate contact while they are officially in session. This is the best time to tell them specifically what you would like them to do. Talk about a specific piece of legislation that you want them to support or oppose and why it’s important they do. If you are knowledgeable on the subject, share with them information that can help them make an informed decision. Make sure at least once you make a personal communication (i.e. with your own email message, and not one generated on a website). This way they are able to connect with a person and not just an issue.
3) Contact after the session
It’s important that you follow up after the session has adjourned. Check your officials voting record and see if they voted the way that you hoped. If they did, make sure to thank them. If they didn’t, make sure to say that you were disappointed and have hope for the future. Show your representative that you have not forgotten about them, and are paying attention to how they act.
These three quick communications will do wonders to advance your cause. You will stand out from the pack, because most people don’t take the time to contact often. It’s important we let our elected officials know who put them into office and who is keeping them there. Their job is to represent our interests, and they cannot do that if we remain silent. Now is the perfect time to complete step one. Pledge to take ten minutes this week to reach out to one of your officials. If you need advice on where to start, check out our blog post for tips and a how to. Getting engaged in the political process is one easy way you can make your community and our state a better place for all