Choosing the RecipientWhen it comes to writing a Congressperson, you have two choices--you can write to a Representative or a Senator (people often use the term Congressman to refer to a member of the House of Representatives but in fact, a Congressman is a member of the House or the Senate).
Generally, people opt to write to their Representative as this is the legislator that is closer to the community. Each state, regardless of size, only has two Senators. But the number of Representatives a state has is proportionate to its population. Each Representative represents a district of around 600,000. For that reason, a Representative may be more community-minded than a Senator.
Tennessee is divided into nine Congressional districts. The majority of the city of Memphis is located in the 9th district while most suburbs and outlying areas are located in the 7th and 8th districts. If you are not sure of your district, you can find your Representative by zip code on the United States House of Representatives website.
Contact InformationOnce you know to whom you want to send your letter, the next step is to determine how to send it. Each legislator has his or her own preferences for receiving communications from their constituents. Some prefer email, some prefer snail mail, and still others prefer you to contact them through their website. The following Memphis-area legislators' contact pages outline how to write to them:
- Representative Steve Cohen
- Representative Marsha Blackburn
- Representative Stephen Fincher
- Senator Lamar Alexander
- Senator Bob Corker
EtiquetteNo matter how you go about contacting your Congressperson, there are a few rules of etiquette that will help to ensure your letter is taken seriously.
- If sending a letter through the mail, the Congressperson's name should be written on the envelope as "The Honorable Full Name" (e.g., The Honorable Steve Cohen).
- Begin your letter or email with "Dear Representative Last Name," (e.g., Dear Representative Blackburn,)
- Letters should be typewritten or printed neatly so they are easy to read.
- Keep letters as brief as possible, while clearly stating your point--a single page is ideal.
- Always include your full name and address.
- Regardless of how you feel about the issue at hand, always be polite.