Public Transportation

Checklist & Tips

Checklist: Communicating with Government Officials

  • Familiarize yourself with Congressional staff roles.
  • Review the legislative process.
  • Identify key government officials.
  • Prepare an information kit about the coalition.
  •  Write letters to key legislators and other influential public officials.
  • Arrange for a meeting with key public officials in Washington, the state capital or district office(s). Review tips on meeting with government officials prior to your meeting.
  • Prepare issue papers and handout materials for legislative meetings.
  • Write letters and/or make phone calls to key congressional staff on important issues.
  • Contact candidates about their views on public transportation. Provide them with information on your views.
  • Consider hosting a "Meet the Candidate" Night event.
  • Conduct a voter registration drive.
  • Sponsor a tour of public transportation facilities.
  • Sponsor or participate in a Town Hall meeting or a conference on public transportation.

Quick Tips for Communicating with Government Officials

  • Establish a rapport and working relationship with your local, state and federal officials and with their staff members.
  • Recognize your officials when they are supportive of your efforts.
  • Treat staff with the same respect you would show the elected official. Always try to keep staff informed. When asking for assistance from staff, make the request clear and include any pertinent background information. Never lie.
  • If transit is not a priority to their boss, staff members are not likely to take a significant interest. Help educate staff members over time and look for links to other issues that do interest officials.
  • If an elected official votes the "wrong" way on an issue, do not seek payback. Respectfully explain to your staff contact why you disagree with the official and ask how you can improve communication to make your case the next time.
  • Always thank public officials and their staff for their assistance.
  • Offer tours of your facility and operations. The more that public officials understand what you do, the challenges you face, and how it affects their constituents, the easier it is for them to champion your issues.
  • Try to give staff a "heads up" on new activities or issues that may affect their constituents or may end up in the press.
  • If possible send regular e-mails to designated staff. It will keep your organization and issues fresh in their minds.
  • Explain the political rationale, the local need and the local benefit to staff or the public official. They will be more likely to help if they can "fix" a local problem.
  • When presenting a proposal, let the official know if there is organized opposition against the idea. Be prepared to respond to objections.
  • Recognize that most legislation is crafted at the subcommittee or committee level. It is always easier to convince a committee to make changes than the entire House or Senate.
  • Don’t be afraid to ask for what you want.
  • Keep written material short and to the point.
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