Rep. Trish Ranson

Rep. Trish Ranson

It seems more and more people are becoming politically involved each day, and navigating the world of advocacy can be daunting to a generation new to political activism.

I’ve had many friends ask me what is the best way to contact legislators on topics that are near and dear to their hearts. Here are the five steps I recommend, plus a couple of great resources for staying on top of what’s happening at the State Capitol.

1. Know who you are talking to. Stillwater and the surrounding area has three State Representatives and one State Senator: John Talley represents District 33 to the south; Ty Burns represents District 35 to the north, I represent District 34, which covers the heart of Stillwater, and our Senator is Tom Dugger. Each of us can be reached in multiple ways, but calling or emailing us at the Capitol is the best way to ensure that your concerns are documented, and followed up on.

2. Know what you want to say. Share your story: how does the issue or bill affect you, your family or your way of life? Please refrain from sharing form letters. I’ve received many emails and faxes from folks that don’t live in Stillwater and just cut and paste content from an activist website or Facebook post. If you’re my constituent, I want to hear from you: your concerns, your hopes, your ideas, and your fears.

3. Be positive. We legislators are human beings. We respond much better to kind words and heartfelt stories than we do to threats and accusations. Please know that there are many factors to consider on every issue. Some bills don’t get heard, good or bad, simply because of the politics that are employed here. Your concerns may never be realized but your hopes might not either.

4. Make the time to reach out. The squeaky wheel really does get the grease. A bill that seems ridiculous to you is being considered because it has a population that supports it, and if that population is the only one speaking out, then that’s who gets heard.

5. Follow up. Check in with your legislators even when there isn’t a pressing issue. Send thank you notes or letters of concern, depending on the votes. But please, refrain from trashing on social media.

Now for those resources I promised:

Oklahoma’s 57th Legislative Guide, put out by the Oklahoma Association of Electric Cooperatives (OAEC). This is a great resource for all Oklahomans, and is my go-to app. There is a pictorial directory of all statewide elected officials, state legislators and senators with email addresses and phone numbers. You can also look up who is on what committees. This app is available on both the Apple App Store and Google Play.

BillTrack50.com is a website that allows you to look up federal and state bills by number and author. There is also an app available on the Apple App Store (but it is not available on Google Play). Continue to be engaged. I look forward to hearing from you.

If you have any questions, comments or concerns regarding District 34, please don’t hesitate to email trish.ranson@okhouse.gov or call 405-557-7411. Also, if you come to the Capitol, stop by and say hello!

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