Do's & Dont's: Tips for Meeting with Elected Officials
Your elected officials represent you, but they can’t do this effectively if they don’t know what you want and need. Lawmakers look to their constituents for reliable information on issues they are addressing. With so many issues to learn about including education, health care, transportation, employment, the economy, your knowledge of disabilities helps them do their jobs.
Communicating with legislators and establishing a relationship over time allows you to become a resource about disability issues. In-person meetings with elected officials is a particularly great way for you and your loved ones to communicate with policymakers on important issues. Through these visits, you can educate legislators about your concerns and make yourself available as a resource.
As you prepare for meeting with your elected official, keep the following Do’s and Don'ts in mind.
Make an appointment.
Be on time for your visit.
Be positive and friendly.
State the reason for your visit.
Provide reliable information.
Provide the names of people who can be resources and give additional information.
If you say you will provide additional information, be sure to get back to them.
Get upset if your legislator cannot see you personally.
Be late for the visit.
Be confrontational or threatening.
Try to discuss several different issues.
Give incorrect information or try to answer questions with guesses.
Forget to write a "thank you" letter.
Ignore your legislator the rest of the year.
Adapted from the Arc Washington State, "Hot Tips for Legislative Advocates."