Developing relationships with your elected officials is vitally important if we want to achieve our goals and help the country be Healthy for Good. We’ve provided some helpful hints and tactics to get you started.
Even though the federal government is partially shut down, members of the 116th Congress are working. With so many new faces in the halls of Congress, state legislatures and your local city councils, now is a perfect time to introduce yourself to your lawmakers and make them allies for heart health and overall healthy living. Developing relationships with your elected officials is vitally important if we want to achieve our goals.
Creating new friends at any level of government can seem challenging, but if you remember these three things it’s easy:
- Every elected official was elected to serve you.
- They want to hear from you and value your opinions.
- They have friendly staff whose sole job is to listen to constituent concerns.
While you may not live near Washington D.C. or your state capitol to simply stop by their offices, there are many ways you can get involved that can have big impacts.
Easy ways to get involved and encourage lawmakers to promote a heart healthy lifestyle include:
- Stay up-to-date on the latest information by joining our nationwide grassroots organizations Voices for Healthy Kids and You’re the Cure.
- Use our handy member look-up tool to find your representatives and then visit their websites to find their contact information.
- Follow your state and national lawmakers, even the ones you didn’t vote for, on Facebook and Twitter so you can monitor the way their voting on the issues you care about.
- National legislators will have offices in your district. Find out when they are in town so you can meet with them face-to-face to explain why you’re a proud advocate for Healthy for Good and the American Heart Association. You can encourage staff to remember people like you when they make decisions back in Washington. Feel free to use one of these forms to make an even more memorable expression. If you aren’t able to schedule meetings with them, consider attending one of the public events they hold so you can briefly chat in-person.
*Note: Don’t be discouraged if you can’t connect with your lawmaker. You can also set up meetings with staffers who are trained to work with constituents on a variety of issues.
- While state lawmakers spend much of their time in the state capitol, they do often connect with voters across the state, especially during election years. Try to meet them while they are in your community.
- Write your state lawmakers, your senator or your congressperson an email or letter (yes, as in snail mail) to convey your thoughts about their leadership. What do you like about their legislation, and what do you want to see improved upon? Remember to keep your emails or letters on-topic, highlight what’s important to you and to be critical of their ideas not them as people. Original writings, rather than pre-filled forms, also have a greater impact.
- Call lawmakers. Often times you will get a staffer, but this person was selected by your representative to assist you. Let them do so!
Pro-tip: After you speak to lawmakers or staff, it is important to remember that like every relationship, it takes time to develop. Following up on an issue and being in constant communication with an office is a great place to start!