Calling Your Legislators

Why calling is so important

Put Congressman Delgado’s or Tonko’s and Senators’ Schumer’s and Gillibrand’s numbers in your cell phone.  Put them all under P (for Politician) which makes it really easy to click down the list each day. Ex. Politician Antonio Delgado, Politician Paul Tonko, Politician Chuck Schumer, Politician Kirsten Gillibrand.

DC                                          (202) 224-6542
Albany                                    518  431  4070fax518-431-4076
Buffalo, NY: tel716-846-4111 fax716-846-4113
Melville, NY: tel631-753-0978 fax631-753-0997
New York, NY: tel212-486-4430 fax202-228-2838
Peekskill, NY: tel914-734-1532 fax914-734-1673
Syracuse, NY: tel315-423-5471 fax315-423-5185
Rochester, NY: tel585-263-5866 fax585-263-3173

DC                                          202  224  4451,
Albany                                    518  431  0120fax518-431-0128
Buffalo, NY: tel716-854-9725 fax716-854-9731
Lowville, NY: tel315-376-6118 fax315-376-6118
Mahopac, NY: tel845-875-4585 fax845-875-9099
New York, NY: tel212-688-6262 fax866-824-6340
Melville, NY: tel631-249-2825 fax631-249-2847
Rochester, NY: tel585-263-6250 fax585-263-6247
Syracuse, NY: tel315-448-0470 fax315-448-0476

Congressman Antonio Delgado:                                        (202) 225-5614
District Offices: Yet to be determined

Congressman Paul Tonko:
DC                                          (202) 225-5076
Albany                                   (518) 465-0700

State Senator Daphne Jordan SD 43: 518-455-2381/ 518-371-2751

State Representative Jake Ashby AD 107: 518-455-5777/ 518-477-5404

Advice from a high-level staffer for a Senator:

There are two things that all Activists should be doing all the time right now, and they’re by far the most important things.

  1. The best thing you can do to be heard and get your congressperson to pay attention is to have face-to-face time – if they have town halls, go to them. Go to their local offices. If you’re in DC, try to find a way to go to an event of theirs. Go to the “mobile offices” that their staff hold periodically (all these times are located on each congressperson’s website). When you go, ask questions. A lot of them. And push for answers. The louder and more vocal and present you can be at those the better.
  2. But, those in-person events don’t happen every day. So, the absolute most important thing that people should be doing every day is calling.

You should make 6 calls a day: 2 each (DC office and your local office) to your 2 Senators & your 1 Representative.

Calls are what all the congresspeople pay attention to. Every single day, the Senior Staff and the Senator get a report of the 3 most-called-about topics for that day at each of their offices (in DC and local offices), and exactly how many people said what about each of those topics. They’re also sorted by zip code and area code. Republican callers generally outnumber Democrat callers 4-1, and when it’s a particular issue that single-issue-voters pay attention to (like gun control, or planned parenthood funding, etc…), it’s often closer to 11-1, and that’s recently pushed Republican congressmen on the fence to vote with the Republicans. In the last 8 years, Republicans have called, and Democrats haven’t.

So, when you call:

  1. When calling the DC office, ask for the Staff member in charge of whatever you’re calling about (“Hi, I’d like to speak with the staffer in charge of Healthcare, please”) – local offices won’t always have specific ones, but they might. If you get transferred to that person, awesome. If you don’t, that’s ok – ask for their name, and then just keep talking to whoever answered the phone. Don’t leave a message (unless the office doesn’t pick up at all – then you can…but it’s better to talk to the staffer who first answered than leave a message for the specific staffer in charge of your topic).
  2. Give them your zip code. They won’ t always ask for it, but make sure you give it to them, so they can mark it down. Extra points if you live in a zip code that traditionally votes for them, since they’ll want to make sure they get/keep your vote.
  3. If you can make it personal, make it personal. “I voted for you in the last election and I’m worried/happy/whatever” or “I’m a teacher, and I am appalled by Betsy DeVos,” or “as a single mother” or “as a white, middle class woman,” or whatever.
  4. Pick 1-2 specific things per day to focus on. Don’t go down a whole list – they’re figuring out what 1-2 topics to mark you down for on their lists. So, focus on 1-2 per day. Ideally something that will be voted on/taken up in the next few days, but it doesn’t really matter – even if there’s not a vote coming up in the next week, call It’s important that they just keep getting calls.
  5. Be clear on what you want – “I’m disappointed that the Senator…” or “I want to thank the Senator for their vote on…” or “I want the Senator to know that voting in _____ way is the wrong decision for our state because…” Don’t leave any ambiguity.
  6. They may get to know your voice/get sick of you – it doesn’t The people answering the phones generally turn over every 6 weeks anyway, so even if they’re really sick of you, they’ll be gone in 6 weeks.

From experience since the election: If you hate being on the phone & feel awkward (which is a lot of people) don’t worry about it – there are a bunch of scripts out there on the web. Click here  and here and here for some.  After a few days of calling, it starts to feel a lot more natural.