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WRITE YOUR LOCAL POLITICIAN

Tired of being a part of the unheard masses, but get wobbly knees at a podium? Take a deep breath of relief. Effective political lobbying is grounded in the philosophy that the pen is mightier than the sword--or the microphone.

In fact, elected officials rely on constituents’ written input to stay in touch with public opinion on current events and pending legislation. Drafting a clear, concise statement to a politician can be both cathartic and effective. Each letter is read, the topic noted, then a reply is sent back to the constituent.

With extremely popular issues, a politician may reply with a form letter that outlines his or her stance. Other times, political leaders may respond with a personalized letter. Regardless, politicians are influenced by the amount of mail received on a particular subject. There are some guidelines that will help you, as well as some things to avoid:

DO

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Begin the letter with the appropriate salutation, as in “Dear Sen. Royce” or “Dear Assemblywoman Allen.”

Type or legibly handwrite the letter. Handwritten materials, as long as they are readable, are fine. If using a computer, be certain that the copy is legible.

Cover only one issue in a letter. If addressing a bill currently under consideration, identify the bill by both name and number if possible. Brevity and clarity will demonstrate a grasp of the issues.

Include personal interests affected by the legislation in question. Focus on the local aspects and influences of the bill. Firsthand knowledge of what is happening in the community should be included in the letter.

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Know how your legislator has previously voted on similar issues and his or her current stance on the legislation in question. If an elected official does not have a public stance on an issue, write or phone in your opinion immediately. Officials often withhold announcing a position until public opinion has been carefully examined and weighed.

Send notes of appreciation or approval, as well as complaints. Public officials need to hear that the public backs them on some proposals. The majority of the mail legislators receive comes in the form of criticisms. Supportive letters help present a full spectrum of public opinion.

Include topical editorials from local newspapers.

Write early in the session before bills have been introduced. Voice any ideas or suggestions that would enhance the bill. Send follow-up letters throughout the legislative session, checking on the bill’s status or commenting on the legislator’s work.

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Ask for advice on cutting through government procedures or government-related problems. Many officials take great pleasure in helping constituents swim through the sea of bureaucratic red tape.

Close your letter with “Sincerely yours.” Only letters to the President are closed with “Very respectfully yours.” Be sure to include your name, address and legibly sign your name.

DON’T

Begin the letter with a sarcastic or rude tone. Omit your personal opinion of the legislator and never stray from the subject and emphasis of the letter.

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Be apologetic about writing. Every elected official is pleased to receive letters from the public.

Write to a different official who better mirrors your own political beliefs. Professional courtesy calls for those misdirected letters to be forwarded to the member from the district or state involved.

WHERE TO WRITE

Orange County’s Congressional Delegation

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DISTRICT 40:

Christopher Cox (R)

4000 MacArthur Blvd. 430

Newport Beach, CA 92660

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(714) 756-2244

DISTRICT 39:

William E. Dannemeyer (R)

1235 N. Harbor Blvd. 100

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Fullerton, CA 92632

(714) 992-0141

DISTRICT 38:

Robert K. Dornan (R)

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300 Alicante Plaza 360

Garden Grove, CA 92642

(714) 971-9292

DISTRICT 43:

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Ron Packard (R)

2121 Palomar Airport 105

Carlsbad, CA 92009

(619) 438-0443

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DISTRICT 42:

Dana Rohrabacher (R)

4332 Cerritos Ave. 100

Los Alamitos, CA 90720

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(213) 430-3960

State Assembly

Doris Allen (R)

5252 Orange Ave. 100

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Cypress, CA 90630

(714) 821-1500

Gil Ferguson (R)

4667 MacArthur Blvd. 305

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Newport Beach, CA 92660

(714) 756-0665

Nolan Frizzelle (R)

17195 Newhope St. 201

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Fountain Valley, CA 92708

(714) 662-5503

Ross Johnson (R)

1501 N. Harbor Blvd. 201

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Fullerton, CA 92635

(714) 738-5853

Tom Mays (R)

4510 E. Pacific Coast Highway 550

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Long Beach, CA 90804

(213) 493-5514

Tom Umberg (D)

12822 Garden Grove Blvd.

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Garden Grove, CA 92643

(714) 537-4477

State Senate

Marian Bergeson (R)

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140 Newport Center Drive 120

Newport Beach, CA 92660

(714) 640-1137

Cecil Green (D)

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17100 Pioneer Blvd. 120

Artesia, CA 90701

(213) 924-2116

Frank Hill (R)

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111 Pacifica 210

Irvine, CA 92718

(714) 727-9544

John R. Lewis (R)

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1940 N. Tustin Ave. 102

Orange, CA 92665

(714) 998-0980

Edward R. Royce (R)

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305 N. Harbor Blvd. 300

Fullerton, CA 92632

(714) 871-0270

Orange County Board of Supervisors

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Board of Supervisors

10 Civic Center Plaza

Santa Ana, CA 92701

(714) 834-3100

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DISTRICT 1: Roger R. Stanton

DISTRICT 2: Harriett M. Wieder

DISTRICT 3: Gaddi H. Vasquez

DISTRICT 4: Don R. Roth

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DISTRICT 5: Thomas F. Riley

Source: League of Women Voters of Orange County, California Journal


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