Visiting with a Policymaker
Meeting face-to-face with a policymaker allows you to fully
explain your concerns, allows them to ask questions and develops
a better understanding of the issue for both of you. It is also
an important part of developing relationships into the future.
Few things are harder to put up with than the annoyance of a good
-- Mark Twain
- Call their office or
public home number
to ask for an
appointment. Leave a number where you can be reached. Legislators'
home numbers are listed in the blue pages of your phone book. They
expect people to call them; but as the phone may ring in their home,
don't call at inappropriate hours.
- Choose a convenient place where you can talk without being
interrupted - e.g. a school, library, their office. Be sure you and
they have directions and know where to park.
- Let them know what issues you want to discuss.
- Learn what you can about the official - previous votes and actions
on your issues, committee assignments, professional background, and
any public statements on your issue.
- You can take one or two other people with you, but it isn't
necessary. Keep the group small.
- Prepare for the visit - define your goal, brief yourselves on the
issue, plan what you want to say, even practice with a friend.
- Bring a fact sheet to leave
with them, preferably one page. The sheet should contain your most
important points, what you want them to do, and your contact
information. Be sure to leave your contact information - name,
address, phone and email (if available).
- Arrive on time but understand that they may not be. Be patient and
- Introduce yourselves - describe your interest in the issue, any
organization you are representing. If you are a constituent say so.
- Be friendly and courteous. A little small talk is fine, but get to
the point. Be respectful of their time.
- Say your piece, but be sure to listen to what they have to say.
You can disagree politely, but don't argue or interrupt.
- Be sure to remember the point of the meeting - what it is you want
them to do.
- They may ask a question that you don't know the answer to. It
happens to everyone - you can't know everything about any issue. Don't
make one up. (You almost always get caught.) Say that you don't
know, but you will get back to them.
- Get back to them. If it is taking you a long time to find
the answer, call to let them know that you are still working on
- If by mistake, you say something that you later find out wasn't
right - call right away and correct the error.
- Send a follow up thank you note - It doesn't have to be long.
Handwritten is best, but typed is fine. It should be signed by
everyone who visited, but don't wait too long to get signatures.
Include your contact information again and a copy of any materials
or fact sheets you left with him or her.
Navigating the Legislative Process
Legislators - Who are They?
The Importance of Legislative Staff
Finding and using data
How to Create Fact Sheets and
Calling a Policymaker
Writing to Policymakers
How to testify at a Public Hearing
Directions to the Legislative Office
Building and the State Capitol
Rules and customs for navigating with the
Legislative Office Building and the State Capitol
Tips No Advocate should forget
Classic Advocate Mistakes
Collaborations and Coalitions
How to work with campaigns
How to work with a lobbyist
The Proper Care and Feeding of a
How to Create Fact Sheets and
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