Activist Tools

Tips on Contacting Your Elected Officials!

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Your elected officials need to hear from you. Whether it is a formal letter, a quick postcard, an email, or Facebook post policymakers depend on receiving information and guidance from their constituents and other citizens when deciding how to vote on important issues.

Keep it brief

The most powerful letters are sincere and written from your personal perspective and in your own words. Generallya few sentences or brief paragraphs are the most appreciated. Communications should be limited to one issue. Staff and policymakers read many communications on many issues in any given day so your letter should be short and to the point.

State Who You Are and What You Want Up Front

In the first sentence tell your elected official that you are a constituent. Identify your name and address. You should also clearly identify the issue about which you are writing. If your letters pertains to a specific piece of legislation, it helps to identify it by its bill number (LB ___) or simply state the issue in general terms.

Example: Dear Senator, My name is Jane Smith and I live in your district at 111 Anyplace Lane in Nebraska. I am writing to you about LB 5 to make our employment practices more fair. I urge you to support these values and this important bill.

Hit your three most important points

Choose the three strongest points that will be most effective in persuading policy makers to support your position and flesh them out. 

Example: I encourage you to support this bill because it impacts me and my family, it is important to our economy, and fairness is a value we all hold dear.

Personalize your letter

Tell your elected official why this legislation matters to you, your family and your community. Feel free to briefly share your personal story. Policymakers use these stories in debate and in making up their mind about how to vote. This is about educating your elected officials to see things from your point of view.

Personalize your relationship

Have you ever voted for this elected official? Have you ever contributed time or money to his or her campaign? Are you familiar with her through any business or personal relationship? If so, tell them. However, you don't have to big a big donor to make a big difference. In fact sincere personal stories are always the most powerful.

You are the Expert

Always be courteous and to the point. Don't be afraid to take a firm position. Remember policymakers are learning on the job too-you have a valuable experience and expertise that helps them learn and cast their vote wisely. Don't use all caps and don’t use profanity under any circumstances.

 

Tips on Writing a Letter to the Editor

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Letters to the editor are great advocacy tools. After you write letters to your elected officials, sending letters to the editor can achieve other advocacy goals because they:

  • reach a large audience.
  • are often monitored by elected officials.
  • can bring up information not addressed in a news article.
  • establish broad grassroots support for or opposition to an issue.

Keep it short and on one subject.

Many newspapers have strict limits on the length of letters and have limited space to publish them. Typically aim for 200 words.

Make it personal.

Share your own story or experiences – don’t worry about trying to be an expert. Start by talking about who you are, then describe a problem or concern, then talk about a solution.

Send letters to weekly community newspapers too.

Policymakers usually monitor all publications in their district and its important your friends and neighbors hear about your ideas as well.

Be sure to include your contact information.

Many newspapers will only print a letter to the editor after calling the author to verify his or her identity and address. Newspapers will not give out that information, and will usually only print your name and city should your letter be published.

Make references to the newspaper.

Some papers print general commentary but many favor letters that refer to a specific article. Here are some examples of easy ways to refer to articles in your opening sentence: 

  • I was disappointed to see that The Post's May 18 editorial "School Vouchers Are Right On" omitted some of the key facts in the debate. 
  • I strongly disagree with (author's name) narrow view on women's reproductive rights. ("Name of Op-Ed," date) 
  • I am deeply saddened to read that Congressman Doe is working to roll back affirmative action. ("Title of Article," date)
  • Or for a general letter: I urge all Nebraskans to learn more about LB X an important bill pending in the Nebraska legislature that impacts our land and our water.

Where to submit your letter.

Omaha World Herald
1314 Douglas, Suite 700
Omaha, NE 68102
This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

Lincoln Journal Star
Editorial
P.O. Box 81689
Lincoln, NE 68501
This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

Kearney Hub
13 East 22nd Street
P.O. Box 1988
Kearney, NE 68847
This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

Grand Island Independent
422 W. 1st St
Grand Island, NE 68801
This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

Hastings Tribune
Voice of the People
P.O. Box 788
Hastings, NE 68902
This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

Scottsbluff Star Herald
1405 Broadway
Scottsbluff, NE 69361
This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

North Platte Telegraph
621 N. Chestnut
This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

Columbus Telegraph
The People Speak
Columbus Telegram
P.O. Box 648
Columbus, NE 68602-0648
This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

Beatrice Daily Sun
200 N. Seventh St.
Beatrice, NE 68310-0847
This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

Fremont Tribune
Opinion Page
P.O. Box 9
Fremont, NE 68026
This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

Norfolk Daily News
525 Norfolk Avenue
Norfolk, NE 68701
This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

Sioux City Journal
Opinion
515 Pavonia St.
Sioux City, Iowa 51101 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

York News Times
327 Platte Ave
York, NE 68467

McCook Daily Gazette
W. First and E Streets
P.O. Box 1268
McCook, NE 69001

 

Know Your Rights with Law Enforcement

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Know Your Rights with law enforcement!
 

Fighting for Fairness for the LGBT Community

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Want a quick overview of laws that impact Nebraska's LGBT community? Check out this handout for the "need to know" info or this messagine tip sheet.
 

Bullying: Know Your Rights

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In 2007, Nebraska passed a law requiring all school districts to have an anti-bullying policy. Learn what your rights are if you are being bullied in your school.
Attachments:
Download this file (bullyingkyr06.24.11.pdf)Bullying: Know Your Rights[ ]66 Kb
 
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