Letter To Your Representative

Week Four Discussion: Letter to Your Representative

This weeks discussion is centered on drafting a letter to your local representative regarding a position on a piece of legislation.

Communicating with elected officials is an important part of public health advocacy.  Written communication to the different branches of government is often used by health and advocacy groups to ensure their perspective is considered in the debate on an issue.

Advocacy groups often engage their member advocates in campaigns to directly communicate to their representatives to assure the community voice is included in the discussions and to influence legislators and regulators.  Constituents’ (you, the residents and voters) input on issues is a valued part of the democratic process and should not be underestimated.  Elected officials often make decisions about voting, and even introducing bills in response to public communication. You are writing a draft letter for your primary post.

to find different representatives you may be interested in writing an advocacy letter to. Enter your address (San Diego California) to find your representatives at the Federal, state and local level. Identify which level of government you wish to send a letter to and find that elected official’s address.

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For the letter (see student sample below):

  • Begin your letter and include the representatives name and legislative title you are writing the letter to:

EXAMPLE:

The Honorable John Doe,

US Congress, 53rd District

123 Elm St

San Diego CA 92103

  • Include the constituents (your) local address, email address or web form url in the address line (this information can be created and does not have to be your actual information).
  • Include an introduction and an advocacy issue appeal
    • The introduction (~1 paragraph) includes information about your personal experience, education, and interests and must include a statement of your constituency. It also introduces the issue you want to have addressed in one sentence or less.
      • Constituency means all the people (voters), served by a particular elected official, especially a legislator. In other words, a district that is representative of a specific legislator. For example, I live in Carlsbad, which is the 49th congressional district in California. It is represented by Congressman Darrell Issa
    • The advocacy appeal (~2 paragraphs) is a statement on behalf of a community asking for the issue to be addressed, thanking or expressing disappointment and/or concern for recent support of an issue. It often includes education about the issue, and is backed up by fact. For this assignment, your appeal should include a proposed solution (not a bill #) you think will address the problem.
      • Do NOT lobby (your letter may not ask for a specific bill, or a specific way to vote)
      • The topic of the issue should be discussed. Do not include a bill # or legislation name because that is lobbying.
      • Please review the advocacy sample letter in your text. This is a perfect example of a way to advocate for a cause without leaning towards lobbying. The example is in Chapter 17, p.335. Read the paragraph prior to the example letter that begins with: “There are many ways to advocate on behalf of a public health issue….”.

For more details about writing letters to elected officials, see the Community Toolboxhttp://ctb.ku.edu/en/table-of-contents/advocacy/direct-action/letters-to-elected-officials/main

Other sample letters:

  • APHA:these are a bit lengthy, but helps you understand the gist of letters to congress, etc… Carefully review letters that do not include bill number or legislation name. This is a good example.
  • American Lung Association: sample letters.  Carefully review letters that do not include bill number or legislation name. This is a good example.
  • See the STUDENT SAMPLE

 

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