While Federal and other executive-level elected and appointed officials always seem to steal the limelight, when it comes to insuring that your individual voice gets heard, you should start at the state and local levels. If there are bills being voted on, budget cuts being proposed or things that you think aren’t getting the attention they deserve, the best strategy is to start small and work your way up…
Admittedly, the process can be long and frustrating, but with the proper game plan in place, you can greatly streamline and simplify the process.
Finding Your Representatives
The first place to start your search is at the city or community level. This could include your Mayor, City Council or other officials in your immediate area. Generally, you can find the names, mailing addresses, business hour phone numbers, and email addresses through your City Hall or by Googling them online.
Next, locate your County officials and representatives. Examples might include Tax Commissioners, County Commissioners, Chair heads and other similar positions. This information can often be found in your County Courthouse or, again, by performing a simple Internet search.
After you’ve scouted out your local and county elected officials, it’s time to move on to your State Representatives, which can include Senators, Congresspersons and other members of your State Legislation. For the most part, information regarding your state reps and authorities can be located within your official State’s website or within government offices.
Before moving any further, take the time out to locate at least one representative (preferably, one in line with your own political background and leanings) at each level: local, county and state.
Contacting Your Officials
First of all, it’s important to understand that you don’t need a “reason” to contact one of your elected representatives. While many people prefer to wait to contact their officials to weigh in on a current issue that’s coming up in the legislation process or to encourage them to vote “your way”, you can also contact your officials to offer them thanks or support for their activities on your behalf.
Even those who aren’t politically minded at all may find themselves contacting elected officials for non-political items like letters of commendation, etc.
Regardless of your motivation, there are a number of ways to contact your officials to get your voice heard. Because these are public officials, you can easily and freely obtain important contact information (phone numbers, physical addresses, email addresses, etc.) without any red tape getting in your way.
Obviously, it makes sense for you to contact your officials using whichever method you are most comfortable with, but it’s generally a good idea to use a number of different contact methods if you feel that it’s incredibly important to get the gravity of your message across.
While offering a “thank you” can easily be handled using one method (an email or a handwritten note), if you’re trying to initiate political change, you may want to use ALL of the methods available t you in a concerted campaign.
Of course, you’ll want to make sure that you put your best face forward by making sure that you proofread any correspondence with a careful eye for spelling, grammar and other common errors.
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