"Certainly, gentlemen, it ought to be
the happiness and glory of a representative to live in the strictest
union, the closest correspondence, and the most unreserved communication
with his constituents. Their wishes ought to have great weight with him
(and) their opinion, high respect."
The above quote from Burke is one of my guiding lights as I serve the people of Sutton and Newbury. Irish-born Burke was a long time member of the British parliament and one of its best orators. The above statement was quoted from a speech he gave to incoming MPs (Members of Parliament).
He added his most famous quote regarding representatives after that quote: "Your representative owes you, not his industry only, but his judgment; and he betrays, instead of serving you, if he sacrifices it to your opinion."
It was not his advice to ignore the opinions of his constituents. Rather, he felt it his duty to override those opinions at times because he had more information on the subject and was responsible for representing all of his constituents, not just the loudest.
Representatives today still feel the same obligations and responsibilities. I consider constituent services to be one of my most compelling duties. I have a goal of responding to every phone call, email, and letter I receive from constituents within 48 hours. I am not always able to do that due to time constraints.
I receive upwards of 100 emails each day from the public regarding my duties as a representative in addition to my normal private email load. Fortunately, they are not all from constituents. I have a file for responses and I answer in the order received. In most of my responses, I give the reasoning behind my vote, either with their positions or against them.
Most correspondents express appreciation for my thorough and sincere answers. They thank me for taking the time to explain my reasons for the positions I take and, while I may convert some to my reasoning, others will disagree. But we almost always part friends with a deeper understanding of the position in question. I have copied at least portions of a few of my responses in this weekly column.
Mail received from outside my district receives less attention, except in special circumstances. The non-constituent writer may be a person I know or might have a particularly good point to consider.
The frustrating emails are those received en-masse from various groups. Two of those issues recently were boat speed limits onLake Winnipesaukee and the de-licensing of various professions. I received several hundred messages on each with the cosmetologists extending their protestations nation-wide. I got emails from half of the states in the union on that issue, all of which were left unanswered.
I have helped constituents solve difficulties with the state by providing the names and phone numbers of the department heads involved or by personally calling these hard working commissioners or supervisors to see how the situation might be resolved. Solving problems is the most rewarding part of my job.
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Contact: ken.s+sunacom.com (replace "+" with "@")