Chesney Guest Column: Know When to Contact Your State Legislators

Ever wonder who to contact when you have a question or concern relating to government?

Before picking up the phone or sitting down in front of the computer to send an e-mail to your elected officials, take a moment to consider what level of government your issue applies to. Doing so can help you save time and get a quicker response from the right person or agency.

We understand that navigating the maze of government can be confusing for even the most well-informed citizen.  That’s why my staff and I are always here to help!

Many people are unsure who to contact with their concerns about today’s most pressing public policy issues. A quick civics lesson can help clear up some of the confusion.

Everyone in Illinois is represented in Washington, D.C. by three legislators; your local member of Congress and two United States Senators.

Questions related to Social Security, Medicare, international affairs, immigration policy, and federal spending, for example, should be directed to your local Congressman and/or United States Senators.

Illinois’ two United States Senators are Dick Durbin and Tammy Duckworth. Both have regional offices located throughout the state where you can contact them, or you can reach them online at durbin.senate.gov and duckworth.senate.gov, respectively.

To find your Congressman, all you have to do is enter your zip code on the official website of the U.S. House of Representatives, www.house.gov. Then just click on your Congressman’s name and you will be automatically linked to their website, with contact information for getting in touch with the local office in your area. No matter where you live in northwest Illinois, you will have a new Congressman come January 2023, thanks to redistricting and the retirement of our area’s two current members of Congress, 17th District Democrat Cheri Bustos and 16th District Republican Adam Kinzinger at the end of this year.

You are also represented in Springfield by one State Representative and one State Senator. Contact information for all of Illinois’ 118 State Representatives and 59 State Senators can be found by visiting the Illinois General Assembly website, www.ilga.gov, or by calling the State of Illinois Directory Assistance line at (217) 782-2000. I currently represent the 89th House District, which includes all of Stephenson and Jo Daviess Counties in addition to portions of Winnebago, Carroll and Ogle Counties.

Here are a few helpful tips for when you should contact your state legislators:

  • To express your views for or against a particular House or Senate bill/legislative issue
  • To get information regarding pending legislation or state laws
  • To seek assistance in dealing with a state agency or program
  • To suggest an idea for legislation
  • To obtain information on the status of state highway construction or improvement projects
  • To invite your legislator to speak at a local meeting (ex: Chamber of Commerce events, high school government classes, civic group meetings like Rotary, Kiwanis, or Lions Club, etc.)
  • To request a letter of congratulations for a friend, loved one, or local business celebrating a milestone achievement

If you don’t know whether your question or concern is local, state, or federal in nature, that’s ok! Feel free to contact any of your elected officials and they can direct you to the right place.

For folks here in northwest Illinois, I remain committed to providing effective, responsive constituent service for you and your family on state issues. Contact me at repchesney.com with any questions or concerns you might have.