Rules from experience from Dr. Anthony Nocella, assistant professor of sociology and criminology at Fort Lewis College, and local community activist Karen Pontius:Don’t be intimidated Politicians only have the power that you give them. Your reps are human beings who want to keep their jobs, and to do that, they need to please you. So take the time to tell them where they are going wrong.
Call rather than emailRepresentatives receive thousands of emails and those emails are sorted out by staffers and can be delayed. Phone calls, on the other hand, take up your representative’s time because a staffer has to physically answer the phone, interrupting their daily tasks for your rep.
Request an appointmentTalking to your state reps is not as intimidating as it may sound and they’ll often give you 15 or 30 minutes to talk. Even if you can only get a timely appointment with a staffer, you should still take it. “You may not meet the actual senators or congressmen, but by talking to staffers, you find out the ins that you can keep pushing with your representative,” Pontius said. “You can call and make an appointment, it’s that easy.”
Be professionalWhether dealing with a politician or fellow activists, nearly everyone responds positively to responsible conduct. “People want to be around someone who can finish projects, hold a deadline, build things rather than destroy things, and has humor,” said Nocella. “If your people know that you can create change – even on a local level – in an organized, respectful way, they’re more willing to work with and for you in the future.”