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For Parents: How To Speak To Your Elected Official

Ralph Alswang Photographerwww.ralphphoto.com202-487-5025Face to face meetings are one of the most effective ways to advocate for your cause. Whether meeting with your local, state, or national elected official or collectively with others, the following tips can help make it a successful, productive meeting.

 

Schedule the Meeting

The first step is to identify your elected officials or group that you would like to meet. These sites will help you locate your elected officials.

USA.gov
This site provides information on local, state, and national elected officials and government agencies.

Use this search tool to instantly locate your national, state, and local elected officials.

Many elected officials have assistants. You can find out who that person is by going to that officials’ website, City Hall, State Capital switchboard, or Capital switchboard.

Be clear in stating the purpose of your meeting.

The elected official may not be available to meet with you. Ask to meet with the Chief of Staff or the staff person assigned to the issue that you are advocating for.

Be flexible with scheduling meeting times, the best times are when congress or the legislature is not in session. Plan for 15 to 30 minutes meeting time.

Prepare for the Meeting

  • Research what he/she cares about. What bills he/she have sponsored/supported.
  • Learn what committee he/she serves on.
  • Learn what their constituents are about.
  • Bring local statistics and facts on the issue that you will be discussing during your meeting.

The Meeting

  • Arrive early.
  • Be polite and address him or her respectfully by the correct title.
  • State the purpose of your visit.
  • Make it local.
  • Ask your legislator what his/her position is on the issue.
  • Listen, respond, and don’t argue.
  • Wrap-up the meeting.
  • Thank the legislator for his or her time. Let him or her know that you’re available for additional questions and that you will be following up.
  • Leave something behind – a business card and position paper.
  • Follow up with a note that includes the date you met, the issue you discussed, a restatement of your position and your understanding of the legislator’s position.

For additional information on meeting with elected officials, please check out the following:

How to Prepare for a Meeting with Elected Officials
Tips for Meeting with Elected Official