The elections are long over and the new Michigan Legislature was sworn into office last week. The new legislature has quite a hefty task ahead of them with many unfinished business left from the previous legislative session and new challenges surely to arise. If you haven’t already, now is the time to begin forming relationships with your elected officials. Now is the time to begin holding newly elected officials accountable for the promises they made while campaigning to strengthen public policies on behalf of Michigan children and families. And if children and families weren’t a top priority during their campaign, now is the time to begin educating newly elected officials of why they should be prioritizing children – particularly those from struggling backgrounds – to ensure that Michigan’s future is a bright one.
The best way to create change now is to strengthen your relationship with those who represent you. Legislators are people, just like you and me, and are more inclined to listen to people they already know and trust. Maybe you attended a town hall meeting during their campaign and have already begun to build that relationship. Or maybe your representative is a neighbor you’ve known for years. Or maybe your representative isn’t the person you voted for. Regardless, here are a few easy ways to get engaged with members of the new legislature to build or strengthen your relationship with them so that when the time comes, the relationship is already established so that you can more effectively create change.
- Congratulate them using mail, email, or social media.
- Sign-up for their electronic newsletters to keep up-to-date on the issues at hand.
- Attend their local coffee hours to get to know them and talk to them about the issues that matter to you.
- Visit their office to chat with them or their staff about the issues that matter to you.
- Be a resource to your elected official and give them your expert perspective on issues. You ARE an expert. If you are a parent, you know about the struggles of expensive child care, the importance of a great teacher, or the challenges with navigating the health care system. If you provide direct services, you see the struggles that the children and families you serve face on a day-to-day basis. Share your stories and experiences with your elected officials and better yet, offer solutions that would help your family and your community deal with these issues.
Not sure who represents you? Find out on the Michigan House of Representatives website; and while there, be sure to sign-up for your legislator’s email updates.