Constituency Services Part 4: Respect, Resources and a Response

Constituency services flags Texas Capitol

 Some of my favorite memories of various excursions with my mom or field trips with my school involve going to the Texas Capitol. It's an impressive structure. And as a young child I thought it was the most beautiful building in the world. If you have ever stood in the rotunda of the Texas Capitol and gazed up toward the sky, you know what I'm talking about.

I was also quite impressed with the importance of the business that goes on inside that edifice. It never mattered to me what was being discussed in the Senate or House, I always loved to sit in those hallowed chambers and watch the activity on the floor. Since that time, I have seen other State Capitol buildings, including the U.S. Capitol, but I have never felt the same pride and satisfaction that I did with the Texas Capitol. It's the Texas Capitol that will always have a special place in heart.

 Respect

I have always revered the role of our democratic government. I'm proud to say that my great-uncle was a Texas State Legislator many years ago. Through the years, I have had the pleasure of meeting various state and federal legislators and two Texas governors; Ann Richard and George W. Bush. And I have truly felt it was an honor to meet them; these men and women hold the power to make our lives better or worse, depending on the decisions they make together.

When I hear about a government official abusing his or her power, spewing hate-filled words and ideas, greedily taking too large a piece of the pie or a piece that he or she has no right to, having affairs, committing crimes, etc. I am deeply disappointed and I take it personally. These people should be role models for our children. We should be able to respect and trust those elected to lead our country and represent the needs of the people. All too often that isn't the case.

And yet, there are some respectable, hardworking, honest, faithful, intelligent, good legislators. I just know it. And I'm going to keep believing it.

Constituent Services

One part of being a legislator is helping constituents with various issues, answering their questions and providing interested parties with information.

In addition to answering constituent's questions about pending legislation, position on an issue, etc., legislators can provide some aid in these areas:

  • Issues Involving Federal Agencies
  • Flag Requests
  • Visits to Washington, D.C.
  • Internships
  • Federal Grant Assistance
  • Nomination to a Service Academy
  • And various other issues

For specific information on constituent services provided by your legislator, check here for state legislators and here for federal legislators.

 Rep. Linda Slocum

As I mentioned in Wednesday's post, I had been playing phone tag with MN State Rep. Linda Slocum for over a week. She quickly returned my phone call, but as luck would have it, our schedules were at odds for several days, but we both kept trying. Our persistence paid off, and we finally spoke on Wednesday evening.

I first met Rep. Slocum about 7 years ago when we were both on a community board together in the years before she was a legislator and before I was a mom. We had a great conversation. She was such a delight and happy to participate in this discussion on constituent services this week.

Our conversation inspired several ideas for future posts, and I told her not to be surprised when I call on her again in the future.

Q & A

I appreciate that Rep. Slocum is a very busy woman, but still took the time to contact me {over and over} and respond to my questions. Here is the Q & A with Rep. Linda Slocum:

1.               As a state legislator, how do you connect with your constituents?

I connect with them frequently by email, phone, constituent meetings at my office, snail mail, community meetings, surveys, email updates and mailings on specific issues.

2.               Do you feel that you have your finger on the pulse of your district?

For the most part, yes.  If I feel that I don't have enough input I will solicit it from constituents and constituent surveys.  

3.               How do you gauge the pertinent issues in your district?

From constituents who contact me through the communication mediums that I use. The main concerns are education, health and human services, local government aid and transportation, which concern everyone.

4.               When contacted by constituents, how quickly do you typically respond?

As quickly as my schedule allows me to.  As you know sometimes you play "phone tag" but I keep trying.  If it's a constituent with something urgent, I get back to them immediately. 

5.       Is it your goal to respond to all constituent contacts?

Absolutely

6.       What is the best way to contact you or other legislators, based on your experience?

Email or phone

7.       Do you feel that it's important to respond to your constituents?

Of course

8.       How do you see your role as state representative?

I try to represent the best interests of my constituents in 63B - East Richfield and East & Central Bloomington.

9.       How is your role as a state legislator different from a federal legislator?

The issues have more local impact and I have more contact with the people in my district. State legislators deal mainly with local and statewide rather than national and international issues 

10.   How has your job changed as you have become a more experienced lawmaker?

I have learned how to maneuver through the system more effectively to bring about positive changes for my district.

Thank you for providing an additional avenue for communication with my constituents.

Representative Linda Slocum

Minnesota House of Representatives District 63B

501 State Office Building

100 Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Blvd.

Saint Paul, Minnesota

The Scoop

In some ways, this series on constituency services has spurred more questions and more post ideas. I think no matter where we stand politically, most of us truly want our government to work; efficiently, effectively and empathetically. I'm not sure how many people still believe this kind of government will ever exist though. We have all become too jaded {and with good reason}, but I still believe the glass is half full.

Tomorrow I will be posting a list of Oscar nominated films that are law related in preparation for the red carpet tomorrow evening. On Monday, I'll have another guest post. This one will come from DH. It's a fascinating topic and will be a nice segue into Motherly Law's FIRST ANNIVERSARY WEEK!! Over and out...

Anna

You might also like:

Constituency Services Part 1: Guest Post by U.S. Rep. Erik Paulsen

Constituency Services Part 2: My Experiment Re: Contacting My Legislators

Constituency Services Part 3: Guest Post by U.S. Rep. Keith Ellison

 

www.MotherlyLaw.com

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