Making Your Voice Heard

Making Your Voice Heard

Dick Durbin

Democracy is not a spectator sport. Active citizens do make a difference. Voice your concerns effectively by following some basic principles. The same principles apply to your local, state, and federal government. Click on the red links below to read about the best ways to be heard and achieve maximum impact.
 
Is Anyone Listening?
Your elected officials work for you. If you think a proposed ordinance or policy misses the mark or have a suggestion as to how to address a problem, share your ideas. Legislators are most interested in how policies and programs affect their districts; let them know how you will be impacted. Click here for contact information for your elected officials. (Or, if you live outside Elmhurst, the Election Division of DuPage County allows you to use your address to determine which officials represent you.) Reach out via email, the USPS, an office visit, or a phone call.

Suggestions for Contacting Your Elected Officials
 
  • Identify yourself and give your home address.
  • Limit each communication to one issue.
  • Describe the issue that concerns you and tell the legislator the action you would like him/her to take.
  • Have your talking points ready and focus on the issue.
  • State reasons for your views. Be brief, clear, and concise. Stick to the facts; don't stretch the truth.
  • Mention any relevant credentials or background.
  • Make it personal; explain the impact on you, your family, and community.
  • Be courteous and respectful; keep the door open for future communication.
  • Listen to the officeholder’s views. Stay open to compromise.
  • Be patient but persistent. Don’t expect an immediate commitment. Follow up after your initial contact.
  • Ask for a reply (if your contact is through writing). Send a thankyou or follow-up letter when appropriate.
  • Know the rules: never promise campaign contributions or give gifts to officials.
  • Make an appointment or ask for a return call if you wish to have a direct discussion.
  • At the state and federal level, you can also fill out a witness slip either in favor of or in opposition to specific legislation.
One-Minute Lobbying
When time is short, a telephone call or email is a quick and simple way to take action. Here are sample approaches for both phone and email:

Phone
Receptionist: Good morning . . . Alderman Soandso’s office.
You: Hi, my name is Jane Q. Public and I live at 100 Suchandsuch Street in Elmhurst.
Receptionist: How may I help you?
You: I am calling to urge the alderman to vote in favor of the ordinance requiring homeowners to register to be an Airbnb location. I think it is important for residents to know that nonresidents may be regularly staying in their communities.
Receptionist: I will let the alderman know.
You: Thank you.

Email
Dear Alderman Soandso,

I am sending this email today to ask you to support efforts requiring homeowners to register to be an Airbnb location. I think it is important for residents to know that nonresidents may be regularly staying in their communities.

Thank you,

Jane Q. Public, 100 Suchandsuch Street, Elmhurst, IL 60126