Do you know who represents you?
Who are your State Senators, who represent you in Washington DC? Do you know their names?
Who is your Congressperson?
What about in your county – the Legislators who represent you in your State House? Who represents your county? Who represents your town?
Can we break it down even further? Do you know who serves on your City Council or Board of Selectmen? Do you know who is on the School Board? What about your Sheriff?
There is a ton of energy about national and international issues right now. These things are very important, but we can’t lose track of what’s happening in our very own communities while we wait for the latest insanity out of the White House.
Find out when your city council or town selectmen meet, and either attend the meeting or, if you are unable to, convince someone else to attend.
- Ask questions!
- Take notes.
- Be ready to record if something very important comes up.
- Convince more people to attend. There is a lot of energy and people are interested in getting involved in this kind of thing right now.
Look at your state legislature website. (Very easy to find. Google “Maine state legislature” or whichever state you are in.)
- Identify a couple of issues you’re particularly concerned about (education funding? water quality? tax exemptions? reproductive rights?) and find which committees they fall under.
- Get on the email lists for those committees.
- Read through the list of likely upcoming bills. This will be called something like “preliminary list of working titles”. Make note of any red flags, and keep an eye on those bills as that committee goes through the legislative process.
- Keep an eye for public hearings and open sessions, which are excellent opportunities to get involved.
Identify your State Level elected officials. There is a Senator and a Representative who represent you. Find out who they are, if you don’t know already.
- Put their phone numbers into your phone for ease of access.
- Find out which representatives from your county serve on Legislative Committees that you’re concerned about.
Call your legislators – your Senator and your Representative. Not the ones who represent you and your other gigantic district in Washington DC, but the ones who represent you in your State House. This information should also be available on the state legislature website.
- Call to support or speak against upcoming bills.
- Call to thank them for statements or votes you support.
- Call to urge them to speak in favor of or against issues that arise.
- Call your representatives from ALL parties, not just the ones you want to rant at. Give thanks where they are due!
Get involved with local groups. Looking ahead to the mid-term elections with the goal of getting exciting NEW people into office, I recommend your county Democratic Committee. This is an amazing opportunity for action. You can be as involved as you want to be in these kinds of happenings in your community.
Remember that our elected officials are real people, and aren’t very highly compensated for the service they do. Be kind and respectful, but always remember that they represent us. Whether or not you voted for them, once they hold that seat, they represent you. It’s up to all of us to continue to stay informed, stand up, speak out, and be involved.