How to Write Local Officials
Contacting local officials on issues you're passionate about is one of the best ways to stay civically engaged throughout your life. Writing to local officials can even help initiate improvements and change within your own community. While this is an important practice there are a few essential things to keep in mind when writing in order to convey your message properly. Our suggestion: stay CRISP
When writing your letter remember your core message and what you aim to convey. Many local politicians are very busy individuals, so the more concise your letter is, the more likely they are to take quick and effective action on your concern or inquiry. Your letter should be a maximum of one page in length.
While many issues may be frustrating or anger inducing, remember to consistently be respectful when writing to public officials.Being adversarial towards public officials will not help accomplish your goals, but instead use your disagreement in order to conduct an informed conversation addressing all sides of an issue. Don’t be afraid to take a firm stance on an issue, but remember to do it in the kindest possible matter.
When developing the letter keep in mind why your public official should care about this issue. Be sure to demonstrate how it affects people in their constituency, if it disproportionately affects some populations, and what the outcomes are. You can also include research on the issue in order to present facts to demonstrate the relevance of your concern. The better you are at being able to address the importance of the issue, the more likely your official is to take action.
S: Sit Down
Though your letter is an important stepping stone in initiating conversations on issues affecting communities with public officials, another way to do this is to offer to sit down with them. In your letter you can include that you would be willing to meet with them, or speak with them on the phone in order to speak in greater depth on the issue. If you choose to do this be sure to include your contact information should the office choose to meet with you.
Including personal elements in the letter will help officials understand why you are an advocate for this issue and will demonstrate that this concern has directly impacted members of this constituency. Personal elements can even include points such as how new legislation would positively or negatively impact you personally. This will help frame your concern as highly relevant and may implore your public official to address this issue sooner rather than later.