August 30, 10:42 AM click here to comment > 3
When you write the mayor a letter…
Every day, Mayor McGinn receives between 30 and 300 letters and emails. Lots of calls, too, but we try to encourage people to put their message down in writing so the mayor can hear from them in their own words. We thought you might all be interested in knowing exactly what happens to a letter or email on its way from your mailbox to the mayor’s desk.
When your letter is delivered to the Mayor’s Office, it is opened and time stamped by our Supported Employee, Krista Leimbacher. After the correspondence staff review the letters to check for time-sensitive materials like legal documents, Krista scans them into the computer. Our interns at the front desk do some tricky data entry to get your letters assigned to policy staff members in the Mayor’s Office in our database. Those policy staffers work with employees in city departments to get the information needed to answer your questions or address your concerns. Once they have all the information, they write a first draft of a response to your letter and turn it in to the mayor.
Once or twice every week, we meet in Mayor McGinn’s office to go over the drafts we’ve written. He reads your letter (yes, he reads them) and our proposed response. More often than not, he has input to offer on the tone or style of our draft letters. He answered correspondence for Congressman Jim Weaver for several years in his early twenties, so he has strong feelings about treating a constituent with respect. That means speaking directly to someone’s concerns, not dancing around the subject. Sometimes, though, it’s not just the language that needs to be changed. Occasionally he sends us all the way back to the drawing board.
This is the moment when the really good stuff happens. Mayor McGinn reads your letter and says “You know, this person is absolutely right. Something needs to change here.” Maybe it’s a neighborhood project that would benefit from thinking outside the box. Or a policy that doesn’t quite make sense. So the policy staffers go back to the department and ask them to take another look at the policy. It takes a lot of time and staff resources, but we are committed to making sure that every voice, speaking about every issue, no matter how small, is heard and acted on.
When we receive dozens or even hundreds of similar letters on a single subject, we often send the same response to many of them. We try to modify that response to address individual concerns, but sometimes ideas get lost in the shuffle. We have received more than 10,000 letters and emails so far this year. If we missed yours, or failed to address your concerns, please let us know.
We can’t guarantee that everyone who writes a letter will get what they want. But we want you to know – your letters make a difference.
To write to the mayor, send an email to email@example.com (please email if possible. Think of the trees!) or write to:
Mayor Mike McGinn
Seattle City Hall 7th floor
600 Fourth Avenue
P.O. Box 94749
Seattle, WA 98124-4749
Posted by: Words: April Thomas Pictures: Jen Nance