I learned quickly that one of the most important components of public service is being sure to communicate with constituents. I was surprised that constituents opinions really do matter, and that my role would be to register their suggestions/concerns in the database, as well as take down any complains from people phoning in.
When I was first getting acquainted with my office, I asked about what our constituents were like. My office staff brought up hog-selling competitions and lifelong farmers. I had never been exposed to ‘country’ life, and closed-mindedly never realized Detroit is just “the east side” of the state. I learned quickly that my neck of the woods was a small slither of our state, and just why it is so important to make sure all angles are represented in the legislature.
While Lansing is a great city full of lobbyists and young professionals, the most interesting locals I met were constituents who came in for a meeting with the Representative. I had grown up on the completely opposite side of the state than my office’s district, and it was eye-opening to see through the perspective of Michiganders from a completely different environment than mine. Some constituents cared about things I was clueless about: farming subsidies, pipelines in the great lakes, etc.. while others were concerned about things I noticed on my side of the state, too: electricity costs, road conditions, school of choice.