Conserve Southwest Utah is launching a campaign for our members and supporters to reach out to their elected officials who represent all of us and are making decisions on the Lake Powell Pipeline (LPP) and the Northern Corridor Highway (NCH). Let us remember that our elected officials are the decision makers and critical influencers on these projects.
I have often psyched myself out of writing an elected official with negative self-talk that it won’t make any difference and that they don’t really care about my concerns. I decided to test that negative thought and I have had some pleasant and respectful experiences hearing back from my state senator with interesting information. I followed up with another note in hopes of establishing a connection. I am working to have a dialogue with him where there is a balance of my learning about his concerns and interests and vice versa. In this instance we have opposite positions, but he understood his responsibility as my state senator to answer my questions and share information. I was grateful and told him so. And I am betting that there are a number of issues where we agree. I plan to discover those areas.
If speaking is silver, then listening is gold.
~ Turkish Proverb
You may wonder why is CSU launching this campaign to encourage folks to reach out to their elected officials who in most (if not all) cases support the building of the Lake Powell Pipeline and the Northern Corridor Highway? First of all, it is only right for our elected officials to know how their constituents feel about important issues like the LPP and the NCH. Secondly, our fiscal picture is changing rapidly with a pandemic economy and the increased threat of wildfires. Spending priorities are bound to shift. It is unclear what all these costly crises mean for funding education, health care, people with disabilities and infrastructure projects. Reaching out now and beginning a relationship before the tough budgetary decisions must be made improves your ability to weigh in effectively when the crucial time arises.
You cannot antagonize and influence at the same time.
~ John Knox
Here are some tips for writing elected officials:
Look for common ground, state some aspects of the issue that you can agree on; i.e., “Like you, I am concerned about spending tax dollars wisely.”
Share opinions that are backed up with facts. Offer a calm message.
Keep your message clear and to the point. Brevity is best.
Demonstrate that you have some knowledge about their leadership. “Thank you for your hard work in supporting the Recreation, Arts and Parks (RAP) tax.” “I am sure you don’t like raising expenses for citizens and that is why I was impressed when you supported a rational increase in the water rate structure in St. George.”
Ask questions rather than just sharing your opinion. Express your interest in learning and understanding more about his/her position on the LPP or NCH and let them know that you look forward to a response.
Remember that your objective is for the elected official to learn who you are and to begin a conversation.
The Take Action pages on Conserve Southwest Utah’s website offer contact information for elected officials and some suggested questions you might want to pose, and facts to back up your opinions.
I hope you give it a shot. You might be pleasantly surprised with what unfolds! If you aren’t a letter writer, that’s okay. Maybe you can help with a $10 or $25 donation to support Conserve Southwest Utah’s mission and outreach efforts. And you can follow us on Facebook and Instagram. Your engagement makes a difference.