Advocacy

Cities are strongest when they speak with one unified voice. 

Action Alerts

Calls to action in which the LOC IGR Staff seeks city assistance in advocating the position of  cities, and sometimes local government as a whole, on specific legislation.

There are currently no action alerts.

Ways to Stay Engaged

To support city advocacy efforts and ensure that your community is getting the most out of your efforts:

  • Read the LOC Bulletinsent by e-mail every Friday.  The Bulletin provides you with the information you need to most effectively communicate with your legislators about priority issues during session.
  • Utilize the LOC’s Bill Tracker SystemThe tracker has the most up-to-date information on the status and content of bills of interest to you. 
  • Check Social Media—follow LOC both on Twitter (@OregonCities) and Facebook (@League of Oregon Cities). Check-in on these platforms for legislative updates. Don’t forget to use our hashtags #ORCities2019 and #ORCitiesLeg
  • Tune into City Focus and Inside the Capitol The podcasts from the LOC.  You will hear our advocacy staff explain issues there are working on during session.
  • Provide the LOC with feedbacksend an e-mail, copy LOC on communications with legislators, or call.  To most effectively advocate for your community, the LOC needs to hear from you about your interactions with legislators and what is happening in your community

Advocacy Tips and Tricks

Most people don’t take the time to contact their elected officials, so just a few connections on a specific topic can really make an impact. A message from a fellow elected official or city staff carries significant weight. Your communication with elected officials supports the LOC’s work in Salem and on federal issues in Washington, D.C. It can change the way they vote.

The following communication tips will assist you in working with elected officials (local elected officials, state legislators, the governor or Oregon’s congressional delegation).

Making Contact

Your entry point for contact with legislators is literally their staff.  Whether it’s field staff in Oregon for a member of Congress, or the office staff in Salem or D.C., your first impression is critical because staff hold the initial key to access.  If you treat them with respect and patience, chances are, you will have more success in future contact.

Delivering the Message

• Get to know your state legislators, members of Congress and their staff to determine the best way to communicate.

• Calling is effective when you need to get your message across quickly.

• Meeting with elected officials is an essential part of your advocacy efforts. Like you, elected officials have busy schedules, so it is important to get your message across quickly. Generally, they often have more time to meet when they are home in their districts or when the Legislature or Congress is not in session.

• Today emailing has all but replaced more formal letter writing and is a more immediate way to contact elected officials quickly. But don’t discount the value of a written note, especially as a thank you.

Calling Elected Officials

Do
Don't
  • Ask to speak with the elected official directly. If they are not available, ask to speak with the appropriate staff person who is working on the issue. Staff has the elected official’s ear and is often very knowledgeable about the details of your issue. At times they can be your greatest ally.
  • Know what you want to say and be brief. Cover your main points early in the conversation.
  • Leave your name, city and telephone number. This will make it easier for staff to get back to you with information on the issue.
  • Ask the elected official for their position on the issue. If you talk with staff, let them know that you need them to get back to you with the elected official’s position.
  • Thank them for their time and ask if you can provide additional information or be helpful in any way.
  • Follow up your phone call with a brief thank you note, a concise summary of your position, and additional information if needed.
  • Give feedback to the LOC about what you learned.
  • Bluff. If you are asked a question that you cannot answer, say that you will get back to them and then follow up in a timely manner. Bluffing won’t build a relationship, which is the goal.

 

Meeting with Elected Officials

Do  Don't
  • Call first for an appointment. Explain the purpose of your visit.
  • Arrive on time.
  • Email materials to staff in advance if possible but be sure to bring hard copies of materials to leave including a business card.
  • Be respectfully tenacious and do not get discouraged. Lobbying takes time and patience and sometimes you must walk before running.
  • Make the appointment convenient, such as setting it up at the elected official’s office.
  • Ask to meet directly with the elected official. If they are unable to meet with you, schedule an appointment with the staff handling the issue. This often happens with our congressional delegation. If you meet with staff, be clear that you want them to get back to you with the position of the elected official.
  • Be efficient and articulate. The meeting should be brief and concise. If you are with a group of people, you may want to designate one spokesperson.
  • Be direct by asking at the end of the meeting, “Will you support or oppose...?” Their answer will help determine your future strategy.
  • Write a thank you letter to the elected official or staff promptly after your meeting. Even if the elected official did not support your position, let them know that you appreciate their consideration, and explain why you think they should reconsider their position. Reiterate the impact the issue will have on your community.
  • Follow up with the elected official, even if you meet with staff, and provide additional information as appropriate. Ask if you can be helpful in any way.
  • Schedule another meeting or set a standing meeting if necessary.
  • Provide feedback to the LOC about what you learned and any follow up needed from IGR staff
  • Get defensive if the elected official does not support your position. Condescending, threatening or intimidating communications will alienate the elected official and you’ll be working with them on many future issues.

Writing or Emailing Elected Officials

Do  Don't
  • Use the correct address and salutation, i.e. Dear Senator ____________.
  • Type or write clearly. Be sure to include your return address in the letter or email.
  • Confirm you have the correct address or email. The LOC’s webpage has contact information for state legislators, candidates, the governor and Oregon’s congressional delegation.
  • State your position in the first sentence (or subject line on an email). Keep your message focused.
  • Be brief. Explain what you are asking them to do and why.
  • Use your own words and city stationery. Form letters are often discarded as impersonal and do not carry much weight.
  • Give specific examples of how the issue affects your community.
  • Know the facts to ensure you are giving credible information. If you can, find out how the elected official voted on this or similar issues in the past.
  • Be timely. The elected official needs time to consider or act on your request.
  •  Respond quickly to the LOC’s Action Alerts. Many issues are time sensitive.
  • Be persistent. Do not be satisfied with a status report on the bill or issue. Tactfully illicit a more specific response.
  • Say thank you but keep the pressure on. Even if the elected official does not support your position, let them know that you appreciate their consideration, and explain why you think they should vote differently. Reiterate the impact the issue will have on your community and remind them that they are accountable at home for the decision they make.
  • Follow up and ask if you can provide additional information or be helpful in any way.
  • Request that the elected official respond to your communication with their position on the issue.
  • Give feedback to the LOC about what you learned and copy the LOC on your communication.
  • Use a negative tone. Condescending, threatening or intimidating communications will alienate the elected official. You’ll be working with them on many issues in the future.