How to Write Your State Representative
By Ariel Williams —
I’m a single mom.
And I work from home.
Translation: I have two full time jobs, but I’m not paid for one of em. (Arguably the most taxing one. I love my babies more than the air I breathe but boy can they try my patience!)
So whether or not I can put my little guy into pre-school in my district has a very direct effect on my ability to provide for my family.
But my school district has a boatload of requirements that children in the district have to meet in order to qualify to attend pre-k.
It might seem like there isn’t much I can do about it, but in fact, I can easily ensure that my voice is heard by the folks who have an influence on these regulations and requirements.
And all I need is a piece of loose leaf paper and my favorite gel-ink pen (I don’t do ballpoint ya’ll).
When to write your state representative
Maybe you’re a single mom who is also directly affected by your state’s childcare and public school regulations.
Maybe you were one of the many who saw a decrease in your mental health when your religious organization was closed during the pandemic.
Maybe you’re someone who wants to see more guidelines and structure around recycling because you’ve seen enough pictures of innocent animals dying from our pollution and you’re ready to see change.
Of course, there’s the “flip side of that coin” too.
Maybe you voted for a particular representative because you wanted to see her pass legislation that was close to your heart, and you’re overjoyed that she did exactly that!
Maybe you are loving what your rep. is doing, how well they are listening, and the effects they are having!
My point here, friends, is that there is never a bad time to write your representative (although there are certainly bad ways to go about it).
Topics to write to your state representative about
Still, here’s a more comprehensive list in case you’re on the fence about whether or not your letter is a good idea (which, I’ll say again, it is):
- Thank them for voting on a particular bill or saying something in a speech that resonated with you
- Educate them about the value, challenges, obstacles, and significance of your profession if you are trying to make a difference in your workplace (like public schools)
- Send a copy of a recent report that you find important and in need of attention, along with why you feel that way
- Offer your expertise and/or resources if writing on a topic outside of their area of expertise (which is super likely, cuz these folks are politicians, not citizens working in a profession that desperately needs more resources)
- Ask them for support on a topic that is of particular importance to you
- Share a personal story about something that is directly related to a bill they are going to vote on, and state how you want them to vote
- Thank them and encourage them for the changes they are making — motivate them to continue on in their good work
Writing to your representative is a quick and easy way to let your representative know what their constituents (you — the folks who voted for them) think, feel, believe, and value.
They were elected to represent you — so make sure they know who they are representing!
Does writing my representative really make a difference?
Short answer — YUP.
Yuri Beckelman, staff director for the U.S. House of Representatives, is also the former Deputy Chief of Staff to California representative Mark Takano.
Beckelman says —
“If you tell us about something that’s impacting you personally, that’s going to shape the work that we do on that issue.”
He said that a personal conversation with a constituent influenced funding for Cancer research.
Written testimonies are often seen in legislative analyses, and personal stories can have a far stronger reach than we may think.
Remember — you voted for a representative — someone who you believed in to represent you and your voice.
But in order for them to represent your voice, they need to hear your voice.
So do your part to make sure they can.
How precisely do you do that, you ask?
Let’s read on…
Tips to keep in mind when writing to your representative
Writing your state representative may seem intimidating, but it doesn’t have to be.
You’re simply writing to let them know who you are and what your values are.
That being said, here are some tips to keep in mind once you’re in front of your paper —
- Use appropriate salutation — “Dear Representative Doe”
- Introduce yourself and clarify what you want up front — let your rep know in the first paragraph that you’re a constituent. If you’re writing about a specific piece of legislation, identify the issue by it’s bill number.
- Keep it focused. One page is ideal, so stick to the matter at hand. Try to keep it to 3 key points — the 3 strongest and most effective for persuasion.
- Avoid professional jargon. Your rep is a politician, not a professional in your organization, so keep it understandable for them.
- Keep it real! Personalize that sucker. Tell your legislator why this matters to the community and to you. If you can, share a personal story about how it affects you and your family.
- Clarify your relationship with the official — have you ever voted for them? Have you contributed time or resources to their campaign? The stronger a relationship you can establish, the stronger your argument is.
- Keep it polite! No need for threatening or harsh language — be courteous.
- Take a firm stance and ask for specific and clear action. Remember — you are representing voices so that your official can make choices on your behalf.
- Offer your phone number and be open to speak to your legislator. They may want to lean on your expertise or speak more personally with you.
- Spell check and edit for grammar and punctuation.
- Show your appreciation — remember to thank your official for their attention, and thank them again later if they end up voting your way.
- Be sure to include your mailing address, or your letter might not be read at all!
Also keep in mind — handwritten letters always receive more attention than emails or form-letters. That being said, security screenings can delay receipt by up to 3 weeks, so if it’s urgent — like regarding a pending vote — then go ahead and send an email.
But for anything that can take a few weeks, put it in writing. A lot of people post on social media and assume it will be seen by legislators when they throw in a hashtag, but in reality, it’s hit or miss. So write a letter!
If you’re really wanting to get your representative’s attention and just feel like a letter isn’t enough, a handy tip is to write a letter to the editor in your local newspaper.
Mention your legislator by name — that’ll get their attention! Their staff routinely review press clips that mention them.
And of course, continue writing them.
You may not see change after your first letter, but continuous outreach from constituents is inevitably what influences change.
So keep writing, regardless of whether you feel like anyone’s listening. Steady and consistent outreach is the name of the game.
How to write your state representative?
- Pick up pen
- Put pen on paper
Now go make a difference!
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Author Bio: Ariel is a freelance copywriter in the holistic sphere. Known as the Hippie Copywriter, Ariel loves writing with passion and voice for all things pertaining to life, love, healing, community, and our Mother Earth.