Calling Your Elected Officials

Elected officials are faced with difficult decisions every day. It is critical that they hear from New Mexicans — like you — that have a stake in those decisions. One of the most effective ways to do this is by calling your elected official. The following are some recommendations for placing a phone call to your elected official.

The following are some tips for placing a phone call to your elected official:

Prepare. Have an outline or a script of what you intend to say to your legislator. Do research before, if necessary, so that you know the subject and its relevancy to current legislation.

Relax. If you are nervous, relax and treat the phone call like a normal telephone conversation. Try to not read verbatim from a prepared script. Make sure you speak coherently and slowly. You can even practice what you want to say with a friend or family member before you make the call.

Identify yourself. Once you make the call, identify yourself by giving your name and your address. This is so that your elected official knows that you live in or near their district.

Be brief. Clearly and concisely state your position and the reason for your call. Limit your call to one issue. Make a separate phone call for other issues.

Identify the legislation. If you are calling about a specific bill, make sure you identify the legislation’s name, number, or sponsor. If the legislator or staff person is not familiar with the legislation, it’s helpful to provide them with a brief summary.

Ask their viewpoint. If you want to, you can also ask the legislator for their view on the legislation. This will let you know how they feel about the issue.

Ask for a vote. Ask the legislator for a commitment to vote for or against a specific measure.

Don’t argue. If your elected official doesn’t agree with you on the issue, it will be ineffective to engage in a long-winded argument with them about it You will be more likely to get your message across by keeping your conversation clear and succinct. Be courteous, direct and fair.

Don’t be discouraged. Don’t give up if you get a busy signal. This simply means that others are getting through with a message as well. (You can always send a fax if you can’t get through right away). Also, don’t be discouraged if you speak with a staff person or family member. In most cases, outside of the legislative session your elected official doesn’t have an assigned office or staff member that takes calls. If you don’t get a hold of the elected official right away, just continue with the conversation as if they are the legislator and leave a message with the person on the phone. Always be respectful.

Follow up. Send a note to the legislator thanking them or their staff for their time. This is a great opportunity to briefly restate your position in writing.

Be positive. Positive phone calls to your legislator can be very helpful. If your official has a good conservation record or has recently supported pro-conservation legislation, a commendation is always received favorably by the legislator.

Questions about this? Email us at info@cvnm.org to learn more!

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