Interested in meeting with one of your lawmakers to talk about public lands issues? When there’s a local, state, or federal policy issue that you care about, one of the best ways to communicate with your elected officials is in person. But figuring out how to get a first meeting can be overwhelming. Here’s our quick guide to getting that meeting with your lawmaker:
- Remember that they want to hear from you. You elected your lawmakers and they want to stay in office. To do that, they have to know what their voters think. When you bring your issues and opinions to their door, it’s their job to listen.
- Identify the lawmaker that you want to meet with – your member of Congress, state representative, or local official. Almost all lawmakers have official websites with information on how to contact them.
- The best first step is to call the office and ask to speak to a scheduler to arrange a meeting with your lawmaker. Some local officials will hold regular “office hours” where they are available to meet with constituents. You can ask if your lawmaker is planning any open hours where you can meet with him or her.
- If you can’t arrange a meeting with a scheduler, you can also email your lawmakers – all your elected officials will have contact information, either through a contact form or their email, available.
- When you’re requesting a meeting, make sure you mention what you’re coming to discuss and any group you are a part of or represent. For instance, “I’m interested in setting up a meeting with Representative So-And-So. I’m the head of our town’s local paddling club, and I’d like to discuss the upcoming legislation on energy development north of Jones River.”
- Once you’ve scheduled a meeting, make sure you follow up the day before to confirm the time, place, and who you’ll be meeting with. Often, you’ll meet with your lawmaker’s legislative director or a staff member.
- Arrive at your meeting well prepared. Bring talking points on the issue you want to discuss, and consider preparing a one-pager that you can leave behind (for more tips on messaging to your lawmaker, check out this post).
- Remember that personal stories are some of the most effective and persuasive ways you can communicate with your elected officials.
- Last, remember that any meeting with a lawmaker is just the first step for communicating your priorities on public lands issues. Make sure you follow up and stay in touch, especially if there are updates on the issue you’re concerned about.