Individual Virginians have Political Power If They Will Use It

by James C. Sherlock

We discuss here every day issues such as Virginia’s dangerous shortage of health facilities inspectors that have great consequence to the people of the Commonwealth regardless of their political affiliation.

The Director of the Office of Licensure and Certification in VDH was brave to provide an unvarnished reply to my FOIA request.  Every reader bemoaned this situation.  It screams for redress.

Yet the vast majority of Virginians have never contacted their Virginia Delegate or Senator, much less the Governor.  Most don’t do it either because they don’t know how or don’t think it will have an effect.

I know from my personal experience that it can have an effect.  Rules for effectiveness: Be respectful in your communications and clear on both the issue you are addressing and what you want from your elected officials.

If you know the name of your legislators;

  • for your senate member contact information go to ,
  • for your House member
  • and then click on the name.

If you don’t know your members,

If you don’t know the member personally, an email to his or her office works best because you can be more specific and the legislative assistant who reads it has a record.

To contact the Governor, use the email form at

A good site to use to contact executive department legislative liaisons is

If it is an issue raised in a story, provide the link.

I recommend not only that readers do this on issues on which they wish to be heard, but that they urge their friends and family to do so as well.

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25 responses to “Individual Virginians have Political Power If They Will Use It

  1. Force multipliers: 1) Be registered to vote. They check. If you are not, the message gets chucked…. 2) The reality is donors get their messages put on top and their calls returned more quickly. Like it or not, it is true.

    Immediate turnoffs: Rude language, threats, blast emails to multiple legislators who are not your representatives, signs of craziness. Well, the really crazy stuff gets shared around sometimes…but it won’t help your cause.

    The best communication method has always been face to face, but it seems that will remain a major challenge through the 2021 session cycle. Some legislators are taking in-person meetings in their offices and of course the video call is a middle ground.

    • Good contribution.

      • Legislation to double or triple those 40-year old fee schedules and increase inspections seems like a no brainer, but the industry itself is likely to be the real problem. Noisy constituents could easily overcome that.

        • Agree. Note that I added to this essay the link to find executive department legislative liaisons. If it is something they want, like VDH wants more inspectors, it is useful to let the departmental legislative liaisons you are working for their interests and exactly how. They may not have seen the article so link it to them.

    • You left out the most important force multiplier 3) alcohol the official doesn’t have to pay for increased the likelihood of their listening, the more you buy, the more they listen (side benefit being that if you ply them with enough alcohol, there might be the opportunity for candid photos that can be used as leverage in the future)

      • That’s a move for us professionals…..dangerous when amateurs go that route. 🙂

      • As they say around the T̶e̶x̶a̶s̶ Virginia Legislature, if you can’t drink their whiskey, screw their women, take their money, and vote against ’em anyway, you don’t belong in office. — Molly Ivins

        • Ah ha, I knew it, you are not a true libtard but a poseur posting non-sequiturs and starting flame wars from the basement of the science building.

          No true left wing wingnut would ever post “screw their women” in this age of enlightenment and gender (or non-gender equity). That comment would offend all female legislators with male significant others, those that sleep with farm animals (their VT hats serve as a marker) and those that self identify as stainless steel toasters cohabitating with other small kitchen appliances.

          • NOT THE BLENDER! It’s not as exciting as it sounds. Plus, it ruins the blades.

            (As we say on the Peninsula, first liar don’t stand a chance.)

        • California. Speaker “Big Daddy” Unruh.

      • James Wyatt Whitehead V

        There was once a time when this stirred the hearts of Virginia’s political elite.

  2. Excellent comments above. — I write my US Senators, Congressman, state legislators, and county supervisors frequently. Candidly, my US Senators rarely reply as my position is counter to theirs; my Congressman and state legislators respond almost 100% of the time; my county supervisor prefers not to be bothered. Whether I hear something in return (which is really nice) or not, I do know that my message is delivered and that I am holding my elected representative accountable. The point is not to get a reply necessarily, but to deliver your message. Jim Sherlock’s posting and encouragement is excellent. Write your legislators today.

  3. The only time I have written an elected representative who is not my representative is with a “thank you” when they take a particularly courageous and selfless stance. The last time was to Representative John Rhodes of Arizona.

  4. Of course, most Congress critters have folks who answer mail and send responses.

    Doesn’t necessarily mean your sentiment won’t get represented but common sense ought to tell you that folks who represent hundreds of thousands of people or more, are not going to be reading letters and sending responses. Someone “filters” – most of them – and a few might get through and some brief discussion about how to answer it.

    At the lower levels – i.e. the elected positions without a staff to read the mail, it depends on the elected. Some of them read all and respond and others just ditch the whole gig.

    Last big issue in Spotsy, several BOS stated that they had received hundeds of letters and emails and apologized for not being to respond to them – but claimed they read them all.

  5. “It is better to light one candle than to curse the darkness.”
    –Eleanor Roosevelt
    (Not someone who I normally quote.)

  6. I know mine. I know several of them outside my district and you better believe I exercise that right in an appropriate manner. I help those who want to be in the General Assembly also. Trust me, my council members, school board, planning commission see me all the time.

    • I know my local and they know me but over the years, I’m come to realize that they have hundreds of citizen contacts to do with on top of their actual other duties and not everyone is polite and and appropriate, especially now days when they have to have security to protect them from the crazies.

      Who would hav thought in a Democracy like the US, that public officials, not only the elected by agency heads have to have personal security?

  7. Injured Dog Struck by Car Eats Own Entrails…

    Fortunately, the RPV is made of smater stuff and resists self-inflicted move to the margins. What was it Norment said recently?

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