As I told you earlier this week, Jen went to the Florida state capitol on Wednesday to lobby for Humane Lobby Day.
I want to share with you a few tips she learned about being an effective citizen lobbyist.
If you call or visit your elected official, don’t be disappointed if you don’t actually speak to him or her. Senator Gaetz was on the floor voting on a bill, so Jen and her group talked to a legislative assistant. Speaking politely to an assistant is just as effective, and sometimes it’s even more effective! These are smart men and women whose job it is to stay up-to-date on the issues so they can keep the representative or senator informed.
Know your stuff! Then Jen’s group went to see their representative, Marti Coley. She is the Speaker Pro Tempore of the House. The first thing the speaker brought up was an email that she’d received from a group called Fix Florida that trashed HSUS. Jen explained to her why that email was misguided and not telling the whole truth. Then the group discussed the issues.
Follow up with a thank you email and remind your representative of your position on the issues. Elected officials are busy people. By sending a follow-up email, Jen shows that she’s actually interested in these bills and will be keeping up with how her elected officials vote.
Don’t lie or make stuff up. If you’re asked a question you don’t know the answer to, it’s acceptable to say you don’t know. Later you can find an answer and get back to them. That’s a great way to make another contact and reinforce your stance without looking like you’re hounding the representative.
One last point to make. Allies come from both sides of the aisle. Don’t assume that your representative’s party affiliation determines how they will vote on a bill. Ultimately, their job is to represent their constituents. An elected official who doesn’t remember that won’t stay in office very long.
I wish I could relate to you how much power you truly have to sway your elected officials, if only you would take the time to call or write them and let your voice be heard. Sure, there are special interest lobbyists who have their ear. But the voice of an educated citizen goes a long way with elected officials. Make sure your voice is one that is heard.