Contact Your Elected Officials

Want to have a voice? You can make a difference by reaching out to elected officials who represent you at any level of government. Sharing your ideas, opinions, expertise or personal stories can sway votes and inform decisions.

Here are 5 important tips to get you started.

  1. Find out who represents you at vote.utah.gov and add elected officials to your contacts for easy access.
  2. Decide which level of government is best to contact about your issue. A city employee can’t help you with a state law, or vice versa.
  3. Be civil. Every time you contact an elected official, it is an opportunity to build a relationship with them. Approaching reps with civility, respect and trustworthy information will get you farther faster and will leave the door open for future communications.
  4. State that you are a constituent. Include your name and full address with zip code in written communications and voicemails. Elected officials want to know if they represent you.
  5. Personalize your communications. Revise form letters and subject headers or – better yet – write your own letter for FAR greater impact. Or make a phone call.

 Want to meet with your elected official in person? Use our TOOL: Plan a Meeting With Your Elected Official

All Utahns are represented by Utah’s two U.S. senators as well as one of our U.S. representatives. Record your members of Congress and their contact information in your contacts for easy access. Other federal officials include U.S. President and vice president, as well as many appointed government officials, such as department and agency heads. For agency issues, contact the office of the agency head and/or submit public comments through the agency’s public comment platform.

Tips for contacting members of Congress:

  • Learn who to contact when. Find out which body is considering legislation before you call. If a bill is in the House, call your congressperson. If a bill is in the Senate, call your senators. For confirmations, call your Senators (the House does not vote on confirmations).
  • In general, call, don’t write. According to insiders, calling congressional offices is more effective than writing. Call especially if you want to communicate about something urgent. For something less urgent, email is fine. If you can’t get through by phone, send an email. Be sure any emails are personalized and don’t use any kind of template — even for the email heading.
  • Only call if you are a constituent. Don’t contact members of Congress from other states. They only want to hear from you if they represent you.
  • Call as often as you have something new to say. There is no need to call about the same issue every day, nor to leave messages at multiple offices of the same official about the same issue. However, it is fine to call every day about different issues.
  • Be considerate of time. Calls should generally only take a few minutes, unless you have a great amount of substance to convey. Be as brief and to the point as possible

Learn more using Call The Halls: Contacting Your Representatives the Smart Way” – downloadable PDF guide by Action Utah Board Member, Emily Ellsworth Coleman

All Utahns are represented by various state officers like the Governor, Lt. Governor, Attorney General and State Auditor, plus one State Senator and one House Representative. Record your state legislators names, contact info and state Senate and House districts into your contacts for easy access. Note that legislative districts do not necessarily coincide with city or county boundaries or congressional, school or other district boundaries, and boundaries may change periodically when redistricting occurs.

Tips for contacting state officials:

  • Learn who to contact when. In general, community advocates should contact their own state legislators. When a bill is being considered for a vote in the House of Representatives, contact your House rep. When a bill is being considered for a vote in the Senate, contact your senator. When a bill is being considered in a committee, you may contact ALL the members of the committee, and be sure to make note if you are a constituent of one of the committee members. If you represent a group or organization, legislators from many districts may be interested in hearing from you.
  • During General or Special Sessions: Emails and texts are more effective than calls for contacting state legislators, who are in meetings throughout their long legislative days and unable to answer the phone. State legislators have interns assisting them during the legislative session only. You may also schedule a brief meeting or call a legislator out of a floor session for a brief chat during General Sessions.
  • Between General Sessions (Interim): Email, text, call or meet in person. Our state legislators are part time elected officials who often have full time jobs. Yet they are available to communicate with constituents year round. Other state officials have staff and full time offices. Call or email.
  • Keep your email or text short – Legislators receive thousands of emails, so be sure to make sure your email gets right to the point, starting in the subject line. An example email header might be: “Please vote NO on HB 93: Judicial Nomination Amendments.” Include any credible data, helpful resources, or personal stories to help make your point. Emails can be a couple of sentences or a couple of paragraphs. Any longer, and it likely won’t get read.
  • ALWAYS mention if you are a constituent. You can even include the word “constituent” in your email header, so your elected official knows right away that you live in their district. Also be sure to Include your name and full address with zip code in your correspondence.
  • Always use a bill’s full name if you are contacting your legislator about a specific bill, and consider writing a brief description of what the bill does. Legislators are juggling hundreds of bills and won’t necessarily remember bills by their number or know about them at all. 
  • Be polite, calm and respectful. During the legislative session you may be reaching an intern who processes emails and texts for your legislator on a temporary basis. During the rest of the year you will be reaching out directly to your legislator. Either way, build rapport with your legislator. Be sure to use salutations and to sign your emails and letters, as you would in a business or personal email. Remember that civility goes further than anger in swaying votes and changing minds.

Utah county governments vary in form, but all counties elect a governing body of commissioners or council members (some also elect county mayors), as well as other county officers. While some county positions represent residents within specific county districts only, others represent all county residents. Find out more about your county government using our County Information resource.

Tips for contacting county officials:

  • Call or email anytime. Constituents may communicate or meet with county officials like any other officials. 
  • Attend county commission or council meetings to learn more about the issues county officials are discussing and how they are addressing them. You can even speak up and provide public comments at these meetings.

Utahns living outside of municipalities do not have municipal representatives. Those who live within Utah’s cities are represented by city mayors, city councils and other elected city officers. Note that municipal elections also include races for special service district representatives, such as parks and rec, sewer and water.

Tips for contacting city officials:

  • Call or email anytime. Constituents may communicate or meet with city officials like any other officials. 
  • Attend city council meetings to learn more about the issues city officials are discussing and how they are addressing them. You can even speak up and provide public comments at these meetings.

Utahns are represented by one member of the Utah State Board of Education according to state districts, as well as one local school board member according to local districts. School districts do not coincide with legislative or other government districts. Like other elected offices, you can find out who represents you at vote.utah.gov.

 

Tips for contacting school board members:

  • Learn who to contact when. In education matters, there are several venues for sharing concerns and feedback – from school staff and administration to school community councils to local and state school board members to state legislators working on education policies. The best place to start can sometimes be closest to home. But when issues are being debated and decided at the local or state school board or legislative levels, turn your communications to the front lines of the action.
  • Call or email anytime. School board members represent you, and you may contact them like any other elected official.
  • Attending school board meetings to learn more about what issues school board officials are discussing and how they are addressing them. Consider participating in opportunities to provide public comment at these meetings.
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