PICK UP THE PHONE.
Your lawmakers have to listen - it’s their job.
Speaking directly over the phone with the offices of your representatives is a great way to communicate with officials. Staffers in each office make note of all the phone calls they receive, keeping track of how often people call regarding specific issues and policies.
In planning what to say, keep in mind that your message doesn’t have to be long in order to have an impact. State your name and where you’re from. Follow that with your concerns regarding a certain issue, a few reasons why the issue is of import to you, and, if you have any ideas, what the representative might be able to do about it.
They key here is to keep it brief. Don’t let your message be clouded by a long speech or uncertainty: know what you’re going to say and say it with confidence. If you can, referencing a certain bill that is on the floor or a specific action you want your representative to take is the best approach. You can find bills relevant to a certain issue using websites like Countable or iCitizen, and check the status of bills on the California Legislative Information website.
Example: Please cosponsor H.R 1890 to reform immigration policy for refugees.
HERE’S A SAMPLE SCRIPT YOU CAN USE TO MAKE YOUR FIRST CALL:
Staffer: Hello, thank you for calling…
You: Hi, my name is John Smith, I live in Main Street neighborhood and went to Main Street High School, and I’m calling to raise some of my concerns over the state’s funding package for higher education. Can I leave a message for the assemblymember?
Staffer: Sure, give me one second…
You: As you may know, the UC is currently discussing the possibility of implementing annual tuition hikes. State funding for the UC has fallen dramatically over the past decade: state funding per student today is about half of what it was in 2001, and since then tuition has nearly tripled. I find it ridiculous that students like me are held in the middle of a political battle that ultimately will hurt students the most. It’s frustrating that the state can’t seem to get its act together and I worry that this University will no longer be public when my kids are here. I call on the assemblyman to support Prop 13 reform and other methods that will provide more assistance to public higher education and students.
Knowing exactly who to call can be confusing, so we’ll keep it simple: the four offices noted below are elected to represent a district specific to where you live. Many representatives have both local offices and capitol offices — refer to the contact information for the D.C. office for federal representatives or state capital (Sacramento) office for state legislators, because that’s where most policy concerns are forwarded. If the representative’s staff can’t solve the issue for you, it’s their job to hear you out and direct you to the right place.
HERE ARE A LIST OF PHONE NUMBERS FOR THE UCLA AREA:
Local - City Council
Councilmember Paul Koretz
Representing: West Los Angeles and the southern San Fernando Valley
Phone: (213) 473-7005
State - State Assemblymembers
Assemblymember Richard Bloom
Representing: West Los Angeles, Malibu, and the central-southern San Fernando Valley
Phone: (916) 319-2050
Assemblymember Sebastian Ridley-Thomas
Representing: Westwood and Culver City
Phone: (916) 319-2054
State - State Senator
Senator Ben Allen
Representing: West Los Angeles, Hollywood, and South Bay
Phone: (916) 651-4026
Federal - Congressperson
Congressman Ted Lieu
Representing: West Los Angeles, Malibu, and South Bay
Phone: (202) 225-3976
Q: How do I know who to call?
A: The four people above are the most direct points of contact you have for each of the three levels of government (local, state, and federal). You should call the office which is most directly responsible for the issue you are concerned about. For example, if you’re concerned about crime in your neighborhood, your best contact is the city councilmember. If you’re worried about state funding for higher education (Fund the UC!), you should call your state assemblymember and state senator. If you’re worried about immigration, social security, or other national issues, give your congressional representative a buzz. Note that some issues might crossover multiple levels of government, such as minimum wage or the environment.
You can use websites such as Countable or iCitizen to easily track issues and find relevant bills, and check the status of bills on the California Legislative Information website.
To find out who you should contact, try these tools;
State - https://openstates.org/find_your_legislator/
Federa l- www.commoncause.org/take-action/find-elected-officials/
Q: Is there anything I should make sure to mention in my phone call?
A: If you’re calling your district representative, be sure to let them know! If you’re calling UCLA’s representatives, make sure to mention you’re a student here. Lawmakers care most about citizens (and voters) from their own districts. Additionally, try to be as clear and specific as you can about the issue you are calling in about. If you calling about a specific bill, be sure to note the bill number, and if they have co-sponsored it.
(Note: Bill titles vary based on chamber, for example H.R. 1234 for the House and S.1234 for the Senate- if going off a script make sure you mention the right one!)
Q: Who will answer the phone and what will they say?
A: Usually an office staffer will answer the telephone. Remember, you aren’t trying to persuade the staffer or have a debate. The staffer just wants to hear your opinion so they can write it down and pass it along to the lawmaker; the more clear and concise your message is, the more likely he/she will pass it along. Be friendly and courteous, and they’ll be more likely to help you out.
Q: Does my call really make a difference?
A: Absolutely. Although you may not be able to speak directly to your representative, staffers will take down your feedback and share with the lawmaker. Often times the number of calls received will be aggregated together: if lots of people are calling in about a particular issue, the policy maker will know that the issue is more important to his/her constituents and will be more motivated to look into it.
Q: What if no one answers the phone?
A: No worries, leave a message! Be sure to state your full name and telephone number in case they want to call back with clarifying questions.