Our elected officials want to hear from us, their constituents, and it is our responsibility to do all we can to make our voices heard. One of the simplest and most effective ways to connect with decision makers is to email, call, or write a letter to your representatives. MVP is coming to you with our go-to guide to contacting your representatives.
Who are your representatives?
The first step is knowing who your representatives are and what their role is. Beginning with this information will help you bring the right issues to the right people. Check out our past resources: Who Are Our New Elected Representatives? and What Do State Representatives and State Senators Do?
To find your legislators, you can use this link. Once you fill out this page with your home address information, you will be redirected to a list of your legislators, their websites, their positions, and their party affiliations.
What issues are important to you?
The next step is to understand what issues are important to you and who can lend an ear and make change. Is your issue a local or state issue? Is it a legislative issue? Different issues are under the jurisdiction of different representatives. Knowing who to contact can help you make the biggest impact.
One way to understand what is important to you and your community is to stay up to date on what is on the minds of Greenwich and Connecticut residents. Keep your finger on the pulse of news happenings and see what issues you can contribute your own voice to. Stay up to date reading The Greenwich Time, Greenwich Free Press, Greenwich Sentinel, Hartford Courant, CT Mirror, and more. Making sure you read a diverse range of sources will ensure that you see all sides of the conversation and understand different news biases.
Think critically about how you are involved in town. Do you have children in the public school system? Do you have an investment in local zoning issues? Do you know how our federal budget is being used to improve the town? What matters to you as a valuable resident? Once you understand how local and state decisions in town impact your everyday life, you can see which issues you are most passionate about. That passion will drive you to enact change and make your voice heard.
How do you contact your representatives?
As a constituent, the three most common ways to get in contact with our representatives is to send an email, call, or write a letter. Each elected official has an address, email address, and phone number listed on their official government webpage, their own website, or their social media. With a couple quick Google searches, you can find this public information and begin crafting your message.
What do you say and how do you say it?
Here are some of our best tips to make sure your letter, email, or call is as effective as possible:
Be concise: Letters and emails should be no more than one page. Try to stay on topic and make sure you’re only discussing one issue per correspondence. This way, you can make the biggest impact with your limited space. Just know: you are representing not only your own voice but everyone who didn’t take the time to write. Make an impact.
Be known: Start your letter, email, or call by introducing yourself as a constituent. Name your town, district, or state to the representative and make it clear you are a strong, informed resident. If you’re referencing a certain bill, policy, or piece of legislation, make sure to reference that right away as well. Getting right to the point of who you are and what you’re looking to discuss makes your message more effective.
Be personal: You have a perspective that is entirely your own. If this issue affects your life and your community, make that known. How is this issue personal to you? Share experiences and details about why this issue matters.
Be specific: Make sure to choose a specific issue to bring up in your correspondence. For example, rather than bringing up infrastructure development in general, discuss budget allocation to repaving roads in one specific area of town. You will have more success if you bring up direct issues affecting you or your community with actionable solutions.
Be patient: Our representatives have many responsibilities. They may not respond to requests and messages right away. Just know you have made a difference and used your voice, regardless of the response time. That being said, don’t be afraid to respectfully follow up on your message. This will make it known that your issue is important and encourage a response from your representative.
Be confident: Remember, your perspective matters. Your representatives care about what you have to say. Be confident and clear while also being courteous and respectful. It’s your duty as a voter and constituent to make your voice heard and you now have the tools to do so.