ST. GEORGE — Have an issue you want to question your state representative or senator about? They say the best way to do that involves doing it personally and by being persistent.
This question came up doing a legislative preview breakfast held by the St. George Area Chamber of Commerce last Tuesday. Republican Reps. Lowry Snow, Brad Last, Travis Seegmiller, Walt Brooks and Sen. Don Ipson shared what bills they had in the works and what the big issues in the Legislature may be this year.
Along the way, Don Willie, president and CEO of the chamber, who moderated the legislator panel, asked how constituents may best contact their representatives.
Brooks, R-St. George, said people can call, text and email their legislators, though spoke about emails specifically and the need for people to identify who they are. The people he represents take priority when having to sift through thousands of emails, he said.
“You get 3,000 emails a day, and who do you represent? We represent about 45,000 people, and so we have to go through and sift those out,” Brooks said.
“And when you call or email someone, identify yourself,” he said. “Say, ‘I’m so-and-so, live at this address, I’m your constituent.’ That’s who I want to hear about. I really don’t mind hearing someone’s opinion, but they’re usually dumb and they’re from up north and I don’t care. I hate to be blunt, but that’s not who I represent. We have enough opinions down here.”
When people identify themselves as someone within their legislator’s district, Brooks said it is very likely to get read and responded to.
“We want to hear from the people we are supposed to represent,” he said.
Ipson, R-St. George, replied next and echoed the need for constituents to identify themselves – and to do so early on in an email. He also stressed a desire for brevity in such communications.
“Get your name in early and make it short, make it short, make it short,” he repeated. “I’m not going to read a long email. I flunked speed-reading. I’m not going to read it.”
Concerning chain emails, the senator said, “Don’t be a part of that.”
Chain emails aren’t as likely to get read and only add to the mass amounts of emails the legislators already get. If you want to make sure your email to your legislator is read, make it personal and not a part of a wave of emails that all say the same thing, both Ipson and Seegmiller, R-Washington City, said.
“Those go into a spam filter often,” Seegmiller said, adding that if you want to make sure your email is read, make sure it is from you personally. “Personalization really matters,” he said.
Being persistent also helps if you don’t hear back from your legislator initially, he said, and also told those gathered at the breakfast they shouldn’t be afraid “to use multiple channels to reach out.”
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