Corresponding With Your Elected Representatives
As Americans we are blessed with the freedoms and rights that come from our representative democracy. Our elected officials are expected to be representatives of the people, the public in whose interest they are to serve. To this end, it is essential that they receive feedback from their constituency.
Use your own personal stationery or personal email account. Business stationary or business emails should only be used if you're representing that company’s position. A hand written letter is always welcome provided your writing is legible.
You should refer to a legislator as "The Honorable" on both the envelope and inside address. For the salutation, "Dear Senator" or "Dear Representative" is appropriate.
Remember to provide your return address on both the envelope and letter; it is also acceptable to give your phone number, though most responses are written. If you have an e-mail address, you may want to include it too.
It's best to limit your letter to one subject and if at all possible one page. If your letter deals with a specific bill, try to include its number in your letter.
Be polite! It's fine to express disapproval, but do so in a respectful manner, never insulting or abusive.
Remember to write thank you letters when you get a response, it's a simple courtesy that will set your letters apart from others.
Above all, stay informed! Your thoughts matter and our elected officials need your opinions in order to make important decisions on your behalf.
Some on the 15 member Allegheny County Council say they need an increase in their 3-thousand dollar expense account. County Council members are each allotted 9-thousand dollars in annual stipends plus up to 3-thousand dollars in expenses to cover mileage, equipment and supplies. Now according to the county home-rule charter these amounts can be increased every five years by up to 5-percent. There has been no change since the year 2000.
Given the problems with the new health care law, should Congress and the president go through the law piece by piece to improve it, repeal the entire law and start over again or leave the law as it is?