Here’s the second post in my mini-series on connecting with elected officials. This week we focus on the state level, and here’s where it gets more difficult.
The difficulty isn’t in access – that’s easier at the state level than it is at the national level. The difficulty is in providing a one-size-fits-all guide, because each state is very unique.
With that in mind, here are some general guidelines.
1, Find your representatives contact information.
Consider looking up not only your area’s legislative representative and senator, but know the higher level individuals as well, including (if your states has one) the lieutenant governor and governor.
A great resource for finding is information located on usa.gov.
2. Understand how your state government functions.
While every state has a governor, not every state has a lieutenant governor. While some states have a strong governor, in some states the governor serves primarily as a figurehead but isn’t a power broker in politics. While some state legislatures meet every year, there are some states which meet every-other-year. Understanding the process is key to knowing when and how to exert influence.
Don’t know where to start? Wonderful state-specific information can be found at ballotpedia.org.
Pro tip: Take time to ask questions and learn.
3. Pick an issue.
Just like the federal level, there are lots of issues within a state. Don’t try to talk about them all in a single phone call. Pick a single issue and focus on it so you can make maximum impact.
Unlike the federal level, when you speak with staff members they are listening for more than a simple position statement. Typically you are able to have more interaction which means you can share more about the rationale for your position as well as have a conversation.
Pro tip: Make your time count. Write an outline of your key points along with support for each argument.
Just because you have more time to talk doesn’t mean you have all the time in the world, so stay on point.
4. Be persistent.
Pick one issue each day, use the steps listed above and contact your representatives as often as you can. This is how you make yourself heard in the system.
5. Calls, letters, visits, emails and social media contacts are equally effective.
Unlike the federal level, it’s far easier to connect with state-level officials. Pick a contact method that works for you and use it!
Pro tip: If you use social media, don’t be a troll. That’s almost a guaranteed way to get yourself ignored instead of heard.
This is the second post in a how-to series for contacted elected officials.