curtis logo
home | my account | catalog

How to Contact Your Elected Officials

Posted by Hazel Onsrud on February 24th, 2017

Opportunities for civic participation are diverse. They can range from professional involvement in our democratic process to volunteering for a favorite cause. They can take hours, or minutes, and be customized to suit your likes or dislikes. You can join the teams of experienced practitioners who use proven strategies to influence thoughts and behavior, or you can lead your own unique campaign. Whatever tact you choose, there are myriad ways to get involved and make a difference in your community. Contacting your elected officials is one way to engage.

Curtis Memorial Library patrons are represented by a number of elected persons. Officials exist at the municipal, county, state and federal level to represent the interests of their electorate. [1]

Town

Different forms of municipal government are used throughout Maine. Each form of government has unique persons fulfill the legislative and executive functions of our society. You can learn more about the roles of varied officials and types of government at Maine Municipal Association and the websites of the Town of Brunswick and Harpswell.

Contact information for local officials can usually be found on their municipalities’ websites. A Town Manager – Town Council form of government exists in Brunswick. There are seven councilors who each represent a district and two at-large. Find your councilor by looking at a map of the districts or contact a representative who is involved in the area of your concern. In Harpswell, Selectmen and other elected officials work with a town administrator and other elected and non-elected officials. A document on Harpswell’s website details their governing procedures.

 

County

Brunswick and Harpswell are part of District 3 of Cumberland County. Counties also have elected officials. The County’s directory provides quick access to contact information for various departments and elected officials. Elected commissioners serve on various boards and committees, create operational priorities, and approve the budget.

  • Stephen F. Gorden  
    • District 3 Commissioner
    • (207) 871-8380
    • gorden@cumberlandcounty.org

State

The State of Maine provides their residents with a custom look-up service that lists the elected representatives for any address. Their State-level listings for a resident of Brunswick or Harpswell include:

Governor

  • Paul R. LePage (R)
    • 1 State House Station
    • Augusta, ME 04333-0001
    • (207) 287-3531
    • governor@maine.gov

Maine State Legislature

Maine Senate

  • Senate District 24
    • Everett Brownie Carson (D-Cumberland)
      • PO Box 68 Harpswell, ME 04079
      • (207) 751-9075
      • Brownie.Carson@legislature.maine.gov

Maine House of Representatives

In addition to calling their offices, visiting events your elected officials attend, and writing about your concerns, meetings can typically be requested with any of these elected officials. Request a Constituent Meeting With the Governor online, or contact the office for their other citizen services.

Federal

Up-to-date contact information for elected officials is listed on the usa.gov website and Maine’s look-up service. The websites of federal elected officials will typically note their national headquarters and regional offices, as well as attempt to explain the types of issues with which they can help their constituents. Be aware that officials serve on different committees, and each wield unique types of influence.

United States Senate

United States House of Representatives

The President of the United States

The President of the United States has their own webpage and contact suggestions.

 

Those of Influence beyond Elected Officials

Numerous professionals serve the public. While the responsibilities of hired staff are different from those of elected officials, it is not uncommon for a resident’s interests to require them to contact both elected and hired officials in order to gain adequate answers to their questions. It is important to note that people who are not elected, but appointed to or serve in a public service job, are also often in a position to hear your concerns. Examples of this include the Town of Brunswick‘s departments and Harpswell’s committees. Brunswick has a quick link to report concerns to the Assistant City Manager, who will route you to the correct department, and Harpswell’s website encourages viewers to get involved on their boards and committees and “Tell Us What You Think”.

Organizational members, community leaders, and your neighbors are a few of the non-elected and influential persons who may be inclined to listen to your concerns and take action. Who you want to contact often depends on your message. It may be important to contact a bunch of people, in multiple governmental and nongovernmental positions, or at different organizational hierarchies in order to obtain the results you desire.

Make an Impact

Whomever you decide to contact, keep in mind that there are many resources to help you make sure your message is heard. Whether you spend your time on crafting a targeted memo, improving the timing of your delivery, or tracking the impact of your different communication strategies, resources exist to help you create change. There is power in numbers and coordinated action. Numerous organizers, social scientists, and past political staffers have provided tips and guides on how to strategically use limited resources to accomplish their aims. Persuasive writing resources can help you craft an argument, and experienced lobbyists can help you hone your communication to gain results. You may consider joining a group of like-minded individuals in order to create a strategy, coordinate your actions, and improve your impact. Whatever level of community participation you choose, you may be surprised to find local, regional, national or international organizations that can help you shape and reach your goals.

 

Need help?

Call (207 725-5242 x510) , email (refdesk@curtislibrary.com) or visit us at the reference desk.

Notes

[1] If you are one of our patrons who also live in another state or town, a central source for information on contact information local, state and federal officials can all be found through the online portal: https://www.usa.gov/elected-officials/. For Maine residents, this site directs the user to various websites which provide searches for local (http://www.maine.gov/local/), county (http://explorer.naco.org/), state (https://www.congress.gov/state-legislature-websites, https://www.usa.gov/state-governor) and federal (http://www.house.gov/representatives/, https://www.senate.gov/general/contact_information/senators_cfm.cfm) data.

 

Women’s March on Washington

Posted by sarah brown on January 17th, 2017

The Women’s March on Washington is a rally scheduled to take place in Washington, D.C., on January 21, 2017, the day after the inauguration of President-elect Donald J. Trump. According to the event’s website, the march aims to “send a bold message to our new administration on their first day in office, and to the world that women’s rights are human rights.”

Organizers state the march is not intended to target Trump but is “more about being proactive about women’s rights,” and, more broadly, “a stand on social justice and human rights issues ranging from race, ethnicity, gender, religion, immigration and healthcare”.

Originally billed as the “Million Women March” the organizers eventually chose to call the event the Women’s March on Washington after the 1963 March on Washington, a historic civil rights rally on the Mall where Martin Luther King Jr. delivered his “I Have a Dream” speech.

Although billed as the “women’s” march, the march is for any person, regardless of gender or gender identity, who believes women’s rights are human rights.

As of January 15, 2017, 194,000 people had RSVP’d as going and 255,000 indicated interest.

What you need to know:

Where is it?

January 21, 2017. The march starts at 10 a.m. ET, beginning at the intersection of Independence Ave. and Third Street S.W.

Groups have organized transportation for people looking to travel to DC for the weekend. March organizers have one ask: If you are coordinating a bus, register on the march website.

For those who want to participate but can’t make it to DC, Sister Marches are planned in other cities.

Maine Sister Marches include:

  • Women’s March on Washington Solidarity Vigil, January 21, 2017 • 10:00 AM, Brunswick Mall (Town Common)
  • Women’s Walk Portland, January 21, 2017 • 10:30 AM, Obelisk Memorial, Eastern Promenade, End of Congress Street, Portland
  • Women’s March on Maine, January 21, 2017 • 10:00 AM, State Capitol, 111 Sewall St.Augusta

 

Related:

“‘Intersectionality’ Defines Women’s March on Washington,” Portland Press Herald, January 8, 2017.

Mainers Gear Up for Women’s March on Washington,” Portland Press Herald, January 15, 2017.

Know Your Rights (ACLU) The ACLU has created this handy Know Your Rights guide for demonstrations and protests.

Pussyhat Project: a national effort to flood the nation’s capital with women wearing pink cat-ear hats at the Women’s March on Washington on Jan. 21.

Fake News

Posted by Pamela Bobker on December 13th, 2016

On Sunday December 4, an armed man walked into a pizza restaurant in Washington, DC, intending to investigate a purported child sex ring run by Hilary Clinton. Although the man was apprehended and no one was injured, the incident is alarming because he was acting on a fake news story.

There have always been fake news stories, parodies and hoaxes, but in today’s online environment, the fake news perpetrators have become extremely sophisticated, and it is often difficult to discern what is real news and what is fake news.

Fake news may be

  • stories that are totally fabricated
  • stories that are misleading or lacking in accuracy
  • satire or comedy that is shared as factual news

Here are some resources that may be helpful in looking at online information:

Fake News: Resources The librarians at Indiana University East have put together a comprehensive guide to help their students understand what makes a news story fake, what are the different categories of fake news stories and how to fact check stories.

FactCheck.org

A project of the Annenberg Public Policy Center of the University of Pennsylvania, FactCheck.org is a nonpartisan, nonprofit “consumer advocate” for voters that aims to reduce the level of deception and confusion in U.S. politics.  FactCheck.org monitors the factual accuracy of what is said by major U.S. political players in the form of TV ads, debates, speeches, interviews and news releases.  Their goal is to apply the best practices of both journalism and scholarship, and to increase public knowledge and understanding.

PolitiFact.com

The Pulitzer Prize-winning PolitiFact researches the claims of politicians and checks their accuracy. PolitiFact is run by editors and reports from the Tampa Bay Times, an independent newspaper in Florida, as is PundiFact, a site devoted to fact-checking pundits.  The PolitiFact state sites are run by news organizations that have partnered with the Times.

Snopes.com

One of the oldest debunking sites on the internet, snopes.com website was founded by David Mikkelson, who lives and works in the Los Angeles area. What he began in 1995 as an expression of his interest in researching urban legends has since grown into what is widely regarded by folklorists, journalists, and laypersons alike as one of the World Wide Web’s essential resources.

CNN: Fake News, Real Violence (by Brian Stelter, December 6, 2016)

NPR’s A Finder’s Guide to Facts (by Steve Inskeep, December 11, 2016)

Ask at the reference desk if you have questions about these or any other resources.

 

about explore brunswick and harpswell Science Databases Science Databases