As we countdown to the midterm elections please consider writing a letter in support of your local candidate. The SCVA NOW Communication Team will be immediately available to help you in any way.
Below you will find guidelines for writing letters and links to appropriately submit them, as well as links to information available on your local candidates. If you need more detailed information from your candidate, we can facilitate a rapid response from the candidate herself (Isn’t it great that they are all ‘hers’?!)
- State your point up front. If you take too long to get to it, people lose interest.
- Letters to the editor go on the opinion page. Make them well-reasoned opinions.
- Stand strong; be direct. Don’t use weasel words, apologize for your views, or discount them.
- Editors love a reaction to a story they’ve recently run. To them, this is dialogue.
- Appeal to a large audience of readers and assume everyone is on your side. Take the moral high road.
- Have someone review your letter, but don’t let that person talk you out of making your point or sending it. Another set of eyes, though, can keep you focused.
- The words “you” and “me” should not scare you! You are communicating with a person. The very best political writing sounds crisp and conversational – it is the only way anyone would keep reading!
- Don’t have more than one topic per letter. Be specific. Don’t ramble.
- Don’t name call. You can criticize and even insult, but do so with declarative sentences, not snarky words.
Tips on Writing Letters to the Editor:
Think of the newspaper’s editorial pages as sort of a town hall meeting that covers a wide range of topics. In essence, those editorial pages are a public conversation between the newspaper and its readers. The newspaper facilitates that discussion by choosing the topics brought up in the form of news stories, editorials or columns. Your job as a letter-writer is to be a brilliant conversationalist who stays on topic.
Letters stand a better chance of getting published if they are in response to stories or commentary in the newspaper, particularly front-page stories and opinion pieces on the editorial pages. Look through your local newspaper for letter-to-the-editor opportunities – stories or opinion pieces that have a possible connection to the climate issue.
Letters to the editor typically are 150-200 words, meaning you are limited to 3 or 4 short paragraphs. They are the haiku of advocacy — short and sweet.
Start the writing process by asking yourself the question: What is my message and how does that relate to the article that was in the paper?
Opening: In your very first sentence, cite the article that you are responding to. For example, “Your editorial Saturday questioning the existence of climate change left me quite puzzled, given that the world’s glaciers are receding at record rates.” (Note: It’s okay to challenge a view, but never be disrespectful or snide)
Transition to the message: You don’t have much space, transition quickly to your message. Start by stating the problem. “If we ignore what scientists are telling us, global temperatures will rise throughout the century with dire consequences — coastal flooding, droughts, famine, extinction of species.”
Propose a solution: This is the meat of your message. “We must reduce the level of carbon-dioxide — the primary greenhouse gas — to a level that will avert these disastrous effects. Scientists tell us that level is 350 parts per million in the atmosphere. The most efficient and effective means to do this is to place a fee on carbon and return the revenue equally to all residents.”
Closing the letter: Finish up strong either by referring back to the beginning of the letter (closing the circle) or with something clever. “Policy-makers can argue all they want, but Mother Nature doesn’t argue — and she doesn’t negotiate.”
Don’t try to say everything in one letter. There’s no room for it and it muddies the message.
In addition to your name, the newspaper will want your address and phone number (not for publication) to verify your letter.
Sample 1: To the editor:
May 4 is the one-year anniversary of the day the Republican majority in the House of Representatives, including Rep. Jason Lewis, voted to repeal the Affordable Care Act. If this bill would have passed Congress, people we know would have lost their coverage through the repeal of the Medicaid expansion. Many people, especially seniors, would have been faced with the uncertainty of premium increases. I will be forever grateful that the Senate failed to pass a bill later in the summer, thanks in part to the courageous vote of Republican Sen. John McCain, of Arizona, and our Minnesota senators.
There is still much to be done to guarantee that all Minnesotans, and all Americans, have access to affordable health care. Democratic 2nd District candidate Angie Craig knows that the Affordable Care Act needs fixing, and she is ready to work toward the goal of universal health coverage. Health care is complicated. The system cannot be fixed with “sound bite” ideas such as “repeal and replace”— it needs thoughtful, reasoned discussion by people who know and understand the challenges and complexity of the task. Angie Craig knows. That’s one of the reasons I will be voting for her for Congress in November.
Sample 2: Letter to the editor by SCVA-NOW member Mary Peterson Bolton:
I just finished reading the two front-page stories Aug. 30 about achievement gaps in Minnesota’s public schools. Both articles detail various quantitative methods of assessing school and student achievement. Not once was the larger environment within which students thrive or drop out mentioned.
Government officials seem to think that if they can describe the problem in the narrowest sense they can then solve the problem using similarly narrow solutions within the school. I compare this to our medical “system,” which often ignores the foundation of health — good nutrition, physical activity and peace of mind — and instead prescribe drugs and surgery. In this case, the “drug” is more sophisticated teaching methods or other “in-school” strategies, which are doomed to failure because they do not address the underlying causes of most underachievement.
In my mind, the “achievement gap” is like the canary in the coal mine. It is an urgent call to recognize the causes of underachievement, namely a society that is fragmented by widening income inequality, increasing poverty and homelessness, segregation by race and class, and lack of community and belonging. Extreme individualism and self-sufficiency are the gods to which we bow, while devotion and attention to the common good continue to erode.
I am amazed that public education officials on all levels seem to accept the bulk of the responsibility for the achievement gap. Why do they not throw it back to where it belongs? When we step back from all the sophisticated tools used to measure student achievement and look at the bigger picture, we can see that the achievement gap does not belong just to the public schools, it belongs to all of us. So, what are WE going to do about it?
Where to Submit:
Tina Folch and Anne Claflin:
Rivertown News: http://www.rivertowns.net/tags/minnesota
For the Forum start here: https://classifieds2.forumcomm.com/forumcele/WFCategoryClassification.aspx
Scroll down the page and pick the box that says “Vote/Political Letters” then click NEXT which is on the upper right side of the page. After you hit next from this page, it will ask you which paper you want to submit a letter to. On that page, you have to go to the bottom and select “More Packages”. On the top right corner of the next page, it will then say “RiverTown Zone C” – that is where you go. It will walk you through the rest of the way. The deadline is always Monday at 9 AM for the paper that week.
The Rivertown Zone C is published in the Hastings Star Gazette, South Washington County Bulletin and Woodbury Bulletin.
There is a $15.00 charge for the first 125 words.
The Stillwater Gazette: Candidates Ann Mozey and Shelly Christensen
Note the deadline of October 22nd.
Forest Lake Times: Candidate Ann Mozey
The Pioneer Press would be appropriate for any of the candidates: https://www.twincities.com/
Candidate’s Web Pages
For more information on their biographies and position statements:
Ann Mozey 39A: http://mozeyinthehouse.com/
Shelly Christensen 39B: https://www.shellyforhouse.com/
Tina Folch 54B: https://tinafolch.com/
Anne Claflin 54A: https://www.anneformnhouse.com/