How to Contact Your Legislator

Why advocate?

Elected officials appreciate hearing from their constituents! It helps them better understand how specific issues are affecting the communities and the individuals they represent. Your voice is important. Many people mistakenly think that they need to be "experts" in a subject, or a powerful figure in the community, before they can share their views with legislators.  Your story is unique, and you may be the only one who can tell it!

In order for Oregon to make lasting changes that will eliminate hunger and poverty, we need to send strong, clear messages to our leaders. You can help! Whether you'd like to spend a few minutes making a phone call, or organize a group visit to your legislator, we hope you'll find helpful tips here to get you started. 

Making your Case

An effective message has three components:

  1. What is the problem? (specific example or proof of the need)
  2. Why should I care? (values statement)
  3. What is the solution? (define a specific policy step and action that the listener can take)

Spend 80% of your time talking about the solution.

Find your Legislator

In Oregon: find your local, state and federal elected officials through the Oregon State Legislature's website.

Outside Oregon: visit Project Vote Smart to find your elected officials.

Tweet your Legislator

Use Twitter to send messages to your legislators about the issues that matter to you.  Visit @2gov for more information.

Call your Legislator

Calling your legislator's office is a fast and effective way to share your views and lend your support to important policy changes. Here are some helpful tips:

  1. Call 1-800-332-2313, or call their direct line if you have it. When the legislature is not in session, they may use a local number.
  2. Be brief
  3. Identify yourself as a constituent
  4. Ask for your legislator, but be willing to speak with a staff person. They will deliver your message.
  5. Be clear about what you want. Reference a bill number if there is one.

Visit your Legislator

When important measures are being considered at the state capitol, or in Congress, don't be shy about asking to meet with your legislator. Remember, they work for the citizens of Oregon! Visiting a legislator's office also allows you to bring along fact sheets and other information. Here are some tips:

  1. Find out whether your legislator is currently using his/her District or Capitol office by calling and asking the legislator's staff.
  2. Call and ask to schedule a meeting and sit down, face-to-face.
  3. Bring support. Coordinate with a few people who care about the issue.
  4. Keep it short and focused. Remember to ask for their support.
  5. Thank them for their time.

Adapted by Patti Whitney-Wise with permission from Oregon Food Bank