HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN"> Visiting Your Senators or Representative

Lutheran Office for Governmental Affairs
(LOGA)

122 C Street N.W., Suite 125
Washington, D.C. 20001
Tel: 202-783-7507      loga@elca.org

Contacting Public Officials

How to Visit Your Senators and Representative

A personal visit with your Representative or Senators can be anxiety-creating, exciting and rewarding. The following are some steps and tips to make such a visit most effective.

BEFORE YOUR VISIT:

  1. Make an appointment.
    • Make contact by letter or by phone to meet at a district office or the Capitol office.
    • Confirm appointment by phone, mail, or fax.
    • Appointments with legislative aids are also valuable.
  2. Brief yourself about your legislator
    • General extent of the district.
    • Committee assignments.
    • Number of terms served.
    • Professional background.
    • Voting record on issues of your interest.
    • Views stated publicly on issues of your interest.
  3. Define the objectives of your visit.
    • Is your objective to get acquainted, express general views, or discuss specific issues?
    • Limit the number of issues to be discussed.
    • Brief yourself on the facts surrounding the issue and your views on it.
    • Briefly outline your comments and/or prepare written summary.
  4. Anticipate.
    • Appointment may start late.
    • Legislator may be in session and unavailable - Plan to either wait, meet with staff, make new appointment, meet legislator at place of meeting.
    • Lengths of meeting may range from 10-15 minutes to an hour.
    • Going as a group has advantages, especially if representing a broad base of people and organizations.
    • Who (if going as a group) will be spokesperson, introduce group, guide conversation, provide summary of issue concern, assign specific roles to each participant, etc?

WHILE YOU'RE THERE

  1. Introduce yourself, giving BRIEF information on your...
    • Place of residence
    • Length of residence
    • Church membership
    • Occupation, student status, volunteer involvements
    • Voter/political involvement
    • Group you are representing (if any)
    • Your experience and expertise relevant to the issue for discussion
  2. Set climate of visit.
    • Be on time
    • Be positive and friendly - not argumentative
    • Acknowledge areas of agreement
    • Acknowledge areas of appreciation
  3. State reason for visit.
    • Be concise and specific
    • State position and recommendation on issue
    • Identify your position or that of group which you represent
    • Leave a written summary of your position (if available), reference material, calling card
    • Ask for related legislative materials: copy of bill, analysis of bill, brochures on Senate or House, etc.
  4. During the conversation.
    • Meet and write down names of staff person assigned your issue of concern
    • Don't let questions or comments derail your purpose
    • Admit you need to think more about a new point raised; ask if they will consider written response later
    • Ask specific questions; request specific responses
    • Explore options of attending committee meetings or hearings, visiting galleries, etc.

AFTER YOUR VISIT

  1. Debrief.
    • With members of group or another person about the experience
    • Determine possible next steps
    • Inform others about what learned
  2. Write letter.
    • Thank legislator for visit
    • Summarize the visit, comment on what was said by all parties present
    • Identify follow-up steps committed by legislator and self
    • Respond to points unaddressed in visit
    • Reiterate issue, position, and recommendations
    • Express intention to continue dialogue
    • Itemize names, addresses, phone numbers, etc. of all participants in visit

 

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