by Chuck Wyrostok
There’s a popular notion that politicians don’t pay mind to what voters want. Seems like, once we vote them in, most of them are done with us…until the next election. Would it not be prudent and crucial to let them know what’s important to us while they’re making law?
Face-to-face meetings between voters and elected officials have significant impact. Emails, calls, and letters are all good, but the “Hello, how do you do?” in their Capitol office or in their home district carries much more weight.
Now, there’s a couple of ways to approach this. One, come to the capitol with some friends to meet with your reps. Two, make a date with them for lunch in your home district to discuss the issues. Both are effective.
Visiting the Capitol
It’s best to call and make appointments with your Senators and Delegate in advance. At www.legis.state.wv.us/ you’ll find the contact info you need.
Your day may start by carpooling with friends you’ve invited to travel along to share in this exercise in democracy. Our state capitol, as grand and impressive as any, can be overwhelming and intimidating. Get over it. It’s our building and we belong in it!
Our lobbyists are Karan Ireland and Kayla Young. Please call or text Karan at 304-356-8774 prior to your arrival to arrange to meet for a briefing and guidance. They will do their best to give you the support you need to make your visit successful.
Here’s a bonus: this Tuesday, January 28th. A golden opportunity to mingle with fellow environmentalists from all over the state is at hand. Sponsored by WV Environmental Council, E-Day features groups from around the state, exhibits and speakers (https://wvecouncil.org/join-us-tuesday-for-e-day/). It could be a good day to get your feet wet. Following E-Day, join us at GREEN JAM, a block away from the Capitol at the Empty Glass, for food, live music and camaraderie.
Meeting With Your Legislator Closer to Home
Since not all folks are comfortable traveling to or able to visit the Capitol, why not have lunch with them at some hometown eatery on a weekend? Most legislators will graciously accept an invitation like this. It’s easy, informal and ripe for opening discussions that need to be had.
Meeting your Senators or Delegate may seem intimidating, but really, your legislators are people just like you. And they’re technically your employees. Although they don’t like to hear that. Don’t laugh. You pay them to be there. Be strong, be confident and above all, be courteous. And remember, you are not just one voter, but a member of a family of concerned voters, and a voice in your community.
It would mean so much if we could count on you to help the Environmental Council maximize its impact with an in-person visit to the Capitol this legislative session.If we want our voices to be a real power in the halls of the capitol, we’ve got to pack those halls on a regular basis. There’s no better time to do this than now!