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Make a Difference by Writing Elected Officials

Diane Loeffler
Minnesota State Representative

Letters and emails do make a difference! As a first term state legislator, I take time to read each one that comes in — an overwhelming volume of input that keeps me in touch with the concerns of those I represent. They are also often a source of great ideas and helps me identify and address problems. Because the volume is so huge, these points will help you get your position or idea across successfully:

  • Be clear. Summarize your basic position, idea or concern in a clear one or two sentences.
  • Be concise. Give your best 2-3 reasons. Personalize it to the impact on your life or that of your community. One page is ideal. (Long, rambling papers may get set aside for when there’s time to focus on it — often after the key vote.) 
  • One idea or concern at a time. Write separate letters on different topics.
  • Being local counts. If writing to your elected officials, let them know you live in their district. In email, put your zip code at the end of the subject line. 
  • Be respectful. Feel free to share how strongly you feel but do it in a manner that doesn’t turn off your reader. 
  • Personalize it. Passing on a “canned” email or postcard has much less impact than a statement in your own words on the same topic. 
  • Leave full contact info. Provide your name, phone, address, email. 
  • Most important – do it. A short, timely communication is more effective than an award winning work of writing that came in after the vote. This isn’t a writing test. A handwritten letter from the heart is memorable even if it has spelling errors. 
  • Pat yourself on the back. Active, engaged citizens are what make democracy work.
Act Locally

To contact your Minnesota state legislator:

House Information at 651-296-2146

Senate Information at 651-296-0504

www.house.leg.state.mn.us/leg/faqtoc.asp?subject=20

Information on writing a member of Congress:

www.usgovinfo.about.com/library/weekly/aa020199.htm

 

Writing Officials

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