Communication with Public Officials

One evening when I was in high school, I remember there was a knock at the door. My dad answered, and it was our councilman. He was going door to door to talk to his constituents (which was not a word that I knew back then). He wanted to know if there was anything that he could do for my parents. Turned out there was. My dad took him out to the part of our driveway that met up with the road, showing him this poorly paved section that filled up every time it rained. Within a week, the county guys were there installing a drain. My parents voted for him every time he was on the ballot after that. When I was old enough, I started voting for him, too.

That’s the kind of thing you never forget.

I’ve never had another politician come knocking on my door. Times have changed, I guess. If you want to know what’s going on politically that could impact you, it is probably better for you to get in touch with your representatives rather than waiting for them to stop by like my parents did. If you don’t know who they are, you can check out your state government’s website, or you can go onto the house.gov and the senate.gov sites. The state government people will have local numbers and office addresses, but the others may only give Washington D.C. contact information. Sometimes they have a local office, too. Write all that info down and put it to use!

You can email your representatives or contact them via social media if they aren’t nearby. Social media can net you a quick response but you never know if it is a lowly staffer who doesn’t know anything or the actual person you’re trying to reach who answers you. If you send an email to one of those addresses, though, chances are you are going to get a lot of solicitation emails that are basically spam. Just keep that in mind before you fire off that email.

Calling, though, is very effective. You call enough and you become the squeaky wheel. You get a response. I have called and emailed my representatives, and calling always earns me a faster response. Now if I have something I really want to say, like maybe I want to express my feelings regarding a certain vote that is coming up, then I am definitely going to call.

If you’re affiliated with a political party, you may find yourself on mailing or phone lists. You will get robocalls reminding you to vote or about other events that you might want to attend. I’ve gotten calls for things like debate viewing parties and town hall meetings. If being part of the political process is important to you, then I recommend that you attend these kinds of events. Town halls are especially great because you can ask questions and get real answers from your elected officials. They may not like the question and you may not like the answer but at least you get to ask.

The important thing, though, is for you to reach out when there is an issue that matters to you. These people are supposed to represent you, so they work FOR you. Never forget that.