Legislators want to know how voters in their districts feel about the problems which challenge effective government. Public officials need to understand what individuals and organizations like and dislike.
Constituent letters, if well written, can be a potent vehicle for making our voices heard in Sacramento. When you write to your legislator, follow these suggestions to make your message more effective.
Address your legislator correctly:
The Honorable (full name)
Member of the Assembly (or Senate) State Capitol
Sacramento, CA 95814
Dear Assembly Member or Senator (last name):
Introduce yourself: Tell who you are in your letter. A simple statement such as "I am the principal at Elmwood High School" is important. In addition, include your address at the top of the letter and your full name at the bottom.
Write to your own representatives: Tell your views to the legislators who represent you. Legislators care about what their constituents think.
Be specific: Clearly identify the particular legislation about which you are writing. Instead of "I'm writing about the retirement bills discussed in the newspaper article last Sunday," try to say, "I'm writing in support of Assembly Bill 100." Moreover, because bills are amended often, it is wise to identify the specific provisions or amended versions which you are discussing.
State your case: Tell your views as concisely as possible. What the legislation means to your school and community is your most potent argument. And, whenever possible, discuss legislation in terms of your school district, its unique needs, problems and assets. Give as many reasons as you can that a proposal warrants support or opposition and exactly what steps you are asking the legislator to take.
Keep your letter short: Tell your story, but don't waste words. A longhand letter, which is perfectly proper, should be no more than two pages; a typewritten one should be held to one page.
Use appropriate stationery: If you're writing on behalf of your district, be sure to use a printed letterhead. It gives the communication dignity and stature.
Ask for a response: Whenever appropriate, include a question in your letter which will elicit an answer. Ask the legislator for his or her view on the matter of its impact on your school.
Try telephone, telegram, mailgram or express mail: These are especially useful when time is limited and your message is urgent.
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