This week marks an important time for advocacy at United Way of Metropolitan Dallas. The 88th Texas Legislature begins today, and together with our supporters we will be advocating for policies that impact education, income and health in North Texas throughout the next 140 days.
By contacting our elected officials and educating them about key issues in our community, we can expand opportunities for our neighbors. When we speak up, united, our power is even greater.
As we prepare for a busy season of advocacy, it’s important that all North Texans understand who represents them and how to quickly contact those policymakers when key issues emerge in proposed legislation.
Important Changes to North Texas’ Districts
In 2023, most North Texas residents will see changes in who represents them. This is due to redistricting and officials choosing to retire or run for higher office.
Redistricting alone has had a significant impact on our region’s districts. For a taste of how much our districts changed, compare the 2020 Texas House District map (left) to the new 2022 Texas House District map (right).
5 Ways for You to Learn More About Your Elected Officials
Now is the perfect time to start building relationships with your elected officials, as most are starting new terms and getting acquainted with their new districts.
Here are five steps you can take to get to know your elected officials, their work in the district and how they tend to vote.
- Figure out who represents you.
The Texas Tribune has a great tool that allows you see which districts your home is in and how redistricting has changed your districts. To find your new representatives, visit this page and enter your address. Write down the numbers of your new congressional, state house and state senate districts. Then, look up the winners of these races on the Tribune’s election results page, and write down these names. Existing offices holders probably already have an office and phone number, which you can find on the websites of the U.S. House, Texas House and Texas Senate.*Do you need a convenient place to save the name and phone numbers of your elected officials? United Way has a new advocacy mini card where you can write down the name and capitol phone numbers of your elected officials so the information is easily accessible when you need to make calls about key community issues. Request your advocacy card here.
- Visit their campaign websites.
All candidates and elected officials have a website so voters and the community can learn more about their background and priorities. Now that you have a list of your representatives, check out their websites, and note their involvement in the community, their philosophy on public service and their values. Campaign websites usually link to their social media pages, so take a little time to scroll through their posts, tweets and videos.
- Visit their official office website.
Each member of the U.S. Congress and the Texas Legislature has a website that provides a map of their district, the address of their offices (generally one is at the Capitol and at least one other is in the district), and the committees they have been assigned. Knowing their committee membership gives you more information on the issues and legislation that they follow, are likely familiar with or are interested in. They generally have a staffer assigned to each committee who would be the best person for you to contact and/or meet with about a relevant issue.
- Sign up for their emails.
Most offices send periodic emails to their constituents and other stakeholders on what the official has been working on. This may include how they voted on an important piece of legislation, meetings they have had with organizations from the district and events they are hosting in their district. These emails can also provide you with information on how to contact the elected official or their staffer if you would like to schedule a meeting with them. If they send out e-communication, you would be able to sign up for it on their campaign website or their capitol webpage.
- Follow them on social media.
Social media is widely used by elected officials and their staff to share their thoughts on a topic, to highlight what they are working on or events they have attended, and to stay up-to-date on what’s happening with their colleagues and throughout their district, Texas or the U.S. The Texas Legislature has an official hashtag (#txlege), which you can use to find anything relevant to their. Most elected officials have accounts on social media platforms, including Twitter and Facebook. You can typically find links to their social media accounts on their campaign webpage or in their emails.
Learn More About Advocating with United Way
In the coming months, we hope you will join us as we speak up and speak out on the most pressing policy issues that impact education, income and health for our entire region. Here are some resources to ensure you feel comfortable and confident when advocating for lasting change: