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Communicating with Elected Officials



Legislators value your opinions

As a constituent, your experiences and stories are more persuasive than the media, government information sources and lobbyists. Phrases, stories and statistics you provide may be used for hearings, meetings and speeches.

Persuasive communications:
are brief;
are concise and tell the member what you want him or her to do, such as co-sponsor or vote for a specific bill;
provide personal and specific examples of how the issue will affect people;
ask specific questions; and
explain your commitment to the issue.
When writing a letter to elected officials, please keep in mind:
  • Individually written letters, rather than mass generated form letters, make a greater impression on your legislator. Type your name, address, and phone number at the top.
  • Addressing correspondence:

To the State Senate

The Honorable (Full Name)
State Capitol, (Room Number)
California Senate
Sacramento, CA 94249

To the State Assembly

The Honorable (Full Name)
State Capitol, (Room Number)
California Assembly
Sacramento, CA 94249

Tips for writing effective letters:

  • Be specific. Say what you are writing about in your first paragraph of the letter. If your letter is about specific legislation, be sure to identify its full name and number, e.g. Assembly Bill: A_____, Senate Bill: S_____.
  • State your position. Explain why you support or oppose this particular issue. Local examples of the impact of this legislation are powerful. Be courteous and to the point, keeping your letter focused on one issue.
  • Ask for a response. Tell you legislator you would appreciate a reply containing his/her position on the issue. “Sincerely yours” is a proper way to conclude your letter.
  • Follow up. If you agree with your legislator's vote, take the time to let him/her know that. Similarly, if you disagree with his or her vote, inform your legislator.

 

Tips for Calling Your Legislators:

Most state legislatures are only in session part-time, so try to get the number for your legislator’s district office. Calls are often taken by a staff member and not the actual legislative member. Ask to speak with the aide who handles the issue to which you wish to comment. If they are not available, you may also leave a message. If you speak with someone other than your legislator, take down their name and title.

Upon reaching your state legislator on the phone, it's easiest to follow these four basic steps:

  • IDENTIFY yourself by name and the organization (if any) that you represent or the town from which you are calling.
  • EXPLAIN why you are calling: "I am calling to support/oppose Assembly Bill: A_____, Senate Bill: S_____. " Be polite and concise. Creating 1 or 2 talking points will focus the content of your message. Too much information may confuse your message. Ask your legislator his/her position on this issue. Don't assume that your legislator has prior knowledge of your issue. Be calm, respectful, and be prepared to educate, using local examples to accentuate your point.
  • REQUEST a written response to your phone call if you did not speak to your legislative member. If the legislator requires further information, provide it as soon as possible.
  • THANK the person who took the phone call for their time and consideration.

 


 

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