Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Tips on how to be an effective citizen lobbyist - from the staff of Congressman Adam Smith

Meeting with politicians and their staff is one of the best parts of my job. I'm always amazed at how easy it is to talk with our elected officials and it makes me proud to have such an open and democratic government in our country.

A big part of the job description of a politician is to meet with constituents - it's how they learn about important issues and stay accountable to voters. A politician can't be everywhere at once though and so they rely on their staff to help out with their tasks. Last week, along with MS Activists Simone Thompson and Karl Schiller, I had the opportunity to meet with his very helpful deputy district director of Congressman Adam Smith, Debra Enteman.

Karl and Simone were great in sharing their stories with Debra, and she was very helpful in giving us some tips on how to be effective citizen lobbyists. I think they are worth repeating:
1) Stay informed - learn about the issues and know what you want your elected officials to do about them.
2) Tell your story effectively - the best activists don't just have an opinion on an issue, they have a personal connection to the issue that makes it compelling.
3) Remind the elected official that you are a constituent - include your address in all your correspondence as politicians care most about voters in their district.

Congressman Adam Smith is a longtime supporter of the MS community so we didn't have to do any hard selling during the meeting. He's a member of the Congressional MS Caucus and a fervent supporter of increased funding for medical research. Still - it was a great chance to be a part of our democracy.

Karl Schiller, MS Activist and Jim Freeburg, advocacy director

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