This archived article was written by: Mae Goss
When it comes to being political, many college students simply are not. Keri Jones came to the College of Eastern Utah March 25 to help students learn how to become politically active. She was brought to campus by the Gay-Straight Alliance Club.
When the word “lobbying” is said, many dazed looks are exchanged. Kristen Zarucchi-Mize, CEU student, thought it meant “a politician who tries to sway your opinion of a topic from your idea to their idea,” when it is actually the opposite.
In a packet Jones handed out, it stated, “Lobbying is educating your legislator about important issues affecting you and your community.”
Why is it important to make contact with elected officials? Jones said, “There’s no way they know everything,” and citizen lobbyists are important and hold a crucial role in getting all sides of an issue expressed.
There are advised steps to take when wanting to make contact with legislators. In Jones’ packet, it says to introduce yourself through: phone call, an e-mail, a letter or an in-person visit.
When making a phone call, some tips from the packet were to: “keep your phone call short and simple … Cover one subject … Follow up.” Jones said there are four times which would be appropriate to call: to set an appointment, once a bill has been filed, to find out your legislator’s position on the bill and right before a vote.
Sending an e-mail is a good way to communicate with a legislator. She used a quote by Roz McGee who wrote, “Now is the time to introduce yourself in a friendly e-mail and let your representative know that you are interested in their legislation and their voting record. This is the starting point of establishing rapport.”
If you write a letter, Jones suggests to cover only one subject, be brief and concise, keep it to one page and request a reply from the legislator. Make sure to have clear points intended to get across and, if the issue can be identified by a bill name and number, include that as well.
When meeting in-person, dress appropriate is a huge plus, as it show respect and that you care about what you are there to talk about. Beginning and ending on a positive note are some tips to keep in mind as well as listening to the elected official.
Jones talked about attending committee hearings and how much of an impact it makes. “Anybody can testify. Once you’re there talking to the council, you’ll see that these are people in your neighborhood … It’s good to put your two cents in.”