Do's & Dont's: Tips for Meeting with Elected Officials

  • January 13, 2015

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. 

 
DO DON'T
Make an appointment. Get upset if your legislator cannot see you personally. 
Be on time for your visit.  Be late for the visit. 
Be positive and friendly.  Be confrontational or threatening. 
State the reason for your visit.  Try to discuss several different issues. 
Provide reliable information.  Give incorrect information or try to answer question with guesses.
Provide the names of people who can be resources and give additional information.  Forget to write a "thank you" letter.
If you say you will provide additional information, be sure to get back to them.  Ignore your legislator the rest of the year. 

Adapted from the Arc Washington State, "Hot Tips for Legislative Advocates."

Disability Rights Tennessee (DRT) is a nonprofit legal services organization that provides FREE services to protect the rights of Tennesseans with disabilities.

Middle Tennessee (Admin Office)

2 International Plaza, Suite 825
Nashville, TN 37217

Phone: 615.298.1080
Fax: 615.298.2046

East Tennessee

9050 Executive Park Drive, Suite 101-B
Knoxville, TN 37923

Phone: 865.670.2944
Fax: 865.470.7028

West Tennessee

2693 Union Avenue Extended, Suite 201
Memphis, TN 38112

Phone: 901.458.6013
Fax: 901.458.7819