It’s 4/20, Do You Know Who Your Local Representatives Are?

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Amy Poehler as Leslie Knope | Colleen Hayes/NBCU Photo Bank/NBCUniversal via Getty Images via Getty Images

Today, like every other day, people across the United States have the opportunity to connect with their local representatives at every level of government. In addition to social networking platforms like Twitter and Facebook, constituents can contact their representatives via email or phone when physically visiting their representatives’ offices isn’t an option. So for anyone interested in learning more about how to get in contact with the elected officials who represent their communities, and make decisions on their constituents’ behalf, read on for a brief but helpful guide to getting to know your local representatives. And, for anyone who struggles with social anxiety, use this resource for some tips to contact your representatives when you’re feeling anxious.

Representative Lookup Tools

Arguably the easiest way to find out who your representatives are is to use an online representative lookup tool that lists the elected officials who govern your community based on your address. My Reps, by DataMade and the Participatory Budgeting Project, is one such tool that works in that way.

Whether you’re on your computer or your mobile phone, you can go to the My Reps website, input your address, select which officials you want to learn the names of, and press the search button that looks like a magnifying glass. Once you’ve done that, you’ll be redirected to a new page that lists the names of your representatives at the local, county, state, and federal levels along with links to their social media pages and other contact information.

Digging Deeper

Once you have your list of representatives, you can start learning more details about them by going to their official websites or the official websites of the governing bodies they are a part of. A great place to start is with your local State Senator or State Assembly member.

In some cases, you could find out that your local representatives are tirelessly working with your well-being in mind. In other cases, you could learn the opposite. Either way, the best thing about knowing who these people are, and how to contact their offices, is that you can use that information to work with your neighbors to advocate for issues you believe in and make sure that your voice is heard. From social media campaigns that involve tagging your local representatives or writing Op-Eds in your local paper, voicing your concerns can lead to direct action when you ensure that they are heard by people with decision-making and legislative power.

Find out what issues and causes get the most attention in your area. Discover proposed legislative measures supported or created by your local representatives. Stay up-to-date with policy changes that could impact your daily life. Additionally, learn about opportunities for you to get involved whether it’s internships in government offices, volunteer positions in your community, or vacant seats waiting to be filled by concerned residents! That concerned resident could even be you but it starts with learning more. (You’d be surprised how many people run unopposed in local elections and how many seats are currently vacant!)

Change You Can Be A Part Of

One main benefit of getting involved with local government is that, in many cases, you can see the impact of your work directly. If your neighborhood has an issue related to overflowing trash cans, tree roots that make sidewalks a safety hazard, ADA non-compliance, preventable public health concerns, or other problems that are specific to your block, chances are it will take the work of local representatives and the concerned residents who work with them to find and implement solutions.

If learning more about your local representatives inspires you to get more involved, consider attending local community board or town hall meetings to find out how to make sure your voice is heard. Speak to people in your community who have already been working with local representatives to help take care of your neighborhood. Learn from them. Help them. Share your unique story, ideas, talents, and expertise in order to help your community.

Sometimes it’s difficult to feel anything other than helplessness. Especially if you’re a part of a marginalized, chronically disenfranchised community. But, given the rise in numbers of people from marginalized, chronically disenfranchised communities entering local government roles who genuinely care about the well-being of their constituent-neighbors, now is the best time to get involved and learn more about who is representing you.

Written by

NYC-based philosophy graduate student whose work covers Genocide Studies, Repro + Enviro Justice, and Critical Race Theory. @moontwerk

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