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Letter: Legislative offices act as liaisons to government

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From: Pamela Weiss


Received: Nov. 26

As a former staff member for the Michigan House of Representatives, I offer kudos to Lee Hamilton for his Nov. 26 column “Serving constituents critical for government to prosper.” I would characterize legislative office workload with a “60-20-20” rule: 60 percent of your work is generated by constituent needs, 20 percent is the demanding legislative schedule, and 20 percent is pure policy work.

Candidates for public office, typically motivated by policy goals, are frequently surprised to confront the demand for constituent services once elected. Legislative offices must act as liaisons to various government departments to resolve constituent issues. Setting constituent service goals must be equally important with legislative policy goals.

I always set response time goals for constituent correspondence and resolution of casework, regardless of a constituent’s political views. People remember if their mail is unanswered or they get a cursory response. Officials ignore constituent services at their peril, especially in swing districts. I can think of races in which poor constituent service was the tipping point for casting an incumbent from office.

Lee Hamilton strikes the right attitude about public service — constituents come first.

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