Editorial: Get your voice heard


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Posted Online: Jan. 22, 2013, 2:53 pm
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The Dispatch and The Rock Island Argus
Since the November election, readers have been contacting us seeking contact information for new lawmakers who would soon be representing them in the Statehouse and Congress.

We promised to do so as soon as we could. Now that they've taken the oath of office and begun setting up their offices, we can provide you with much of what you need to share your opinions with your representatives. We will add any additional contact information as it becomes available in our "Where to Write" box which frequently appears in Viewpoints.

Additionally, in the list which appears below, we also include the names of veteran lawmakers who continue to serve Illinois Quad-Cities constituencies.
We're delighted so many of you are so eager to let your representatives know what you think. Some might find it surprising, but we're told your elected policymakers often are eager to hear from you, as well. What the people who elect them have to say matters to them. But please keep in mind, they're very busy people. To be heard you must take a bit of extra care in crafting and sending your message.

Last July, Jim Nowlan, a former Illinois legislator and senior fellow at the University of Illinois Institute of Government and Public Affairs, wrote on these pages that those who wish to correspond with legislators or members of Congress should remember four things:

-- Your contact with their office is important to lawmakers.
-- Most try to respond. It's smart politics.
-- They receive "boatloads" of written communication, mostly via email.
-- And "good information is valuable to a legislator who cannot be expert on the myriad topics that he or she confronts."

That makes it important that your communication be clear, concise, factual and personal. "The lawmaker receives plenty of info, pro and con, from lobbyists for interest groups, most of which are headquartered outside the lawmaker's district," Mr. Nowlan wrote. "Personalized information that explains how a piece of legislation specifically affects you or your business is invaluable independent communication."

In fact, don't believe for a moment that those interest-group generated mass emails do as much good as a word or two that comes directly from you. (For that matter, they aren't much good for letters to the editor, either; if we sniff out the stuff the industry calls astroturf, we won't print it.) So make sure your thoughts and words are your own.

Though we've included their Washington and Springfield addresses in the list below, we're told constituents may get better results when they contact their lawmakers' local offices. Sometimes, a phone call is better than a letter. However you choose to do so, here is how to contact your legislators:

U.S. Rep. Cheri Bustos, D-East Moline, 1009 Longworth House Office Building, Washington, D.C. 20515; phone (202) 225-5905. District office, McKesson Building, 100 19th St., Suite 101, Rock Island, IL 61201-8018 , phone (309) 786-3406, fill out contact form at https://bustos.house.gov/contact/email-me

State Sen. Darin LaHood, R-Dunlap, M103-F State Capitol, Springfield, IL 62706, phone (217) 782-1942, fax (217) 782-9586. District office, 64 Prairie Street Suite 4, Galesburg, IL 61401, phone (309) 343-8176, SenatorLaHood@att.net

State Rep. Don Moffitt, R-Gilson, 223-N Stratton Office Building, Springfield, IL 62706, (217) 782-8032. District office, No. 5 Weinberg Arcade, Galesburg, IL 61401, phone (309) 343-8000, fax (309) 343-2683; moffitt@grics.net

State Rep. Mike Smiddy, D-Hillsdale, 284-S Stratton Office Building, Springfield, IL 62706. District office, 201 N Main St Unit 2, Port Byron, IL 61275, phone (309) 848-9098, email repsmiddy@gmail.com
U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., 309 Hart Senate Bldg., Washington, DC 20510; phone (202) 224-2152; fax (202) 228-0400; visit www.durbin.senate.gov/public/index.cfm/contact

U.S. Sen. Mark Kirk, R-Ill., 524 Hart Senate Office Building, Washington, DC, 20510; phone (202) 224-2854; visit www.kirk.senate.gov/?p=comment_on_legislation

State Sen. Mike Jacobs, D-East Moline, 127 Capitol Building, Springfield, Il 62706, phone (217) 782.5957. District office, 606 19th St., Moline, IL 61265; phone (309) 797-0001; email jacobs@sbcglobal.net

State Rep. Pat Verschoore, D-Milan, 263-S Stratton Building, Springfield IL 62706, phone (217) 782-5970, fax: (217) 558-1253; email jserra@hds.ilga.gov. District office, 1504 3rd Ave., County Office Bldg, 2nd Floor, Rock Island IL 61201; phone (309) 558-3612; fax (309) 793-4764; e-mail pverschoore@qconline.com

















 



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