Management & Legislative Affairs

people with message boards voiceCitizens exercise your civic rights. Get motivated. Get involved. Stay involved! 

The Power of Citizens to Help Shape Public Policy

The Portsmouth City Council supports and strongly encourages all of our citizens to participate in the formation of public policy. Not only for our city but also for our region, our commonwealth and our nation. Citizen participation is the bases of the democratic contract we have agreed to and have adhered to since the founding of our nation. However, to be effective, it is important that one understands how to participate:

A Quick Primer on U.S. Governmental Structure

As citizens of the country, our democratic contract provides us various opportunities to participate and shape public policies and how our tax dollars are expended.  We are privileged in our country to participate through voting, attending and participating in public meetings, and submitting public policy and budgetary suggestions for consideration.-DSC_0231-

Pictured (l-r) Delegate Steve Heretick, Sherri Neil, Portsmouth IGA Manager, Senator Mamie Locke, Senator L. Louise Lucas, Portsmouth Mayor John L. Rowe, Jr., and Delegate Matthew James 

Public participation can take place in a number of ways:

  • Phone calls
  • Email messages
  • Faxed messages
  • Personal appearances at public legislative meetings

Unless otherwise noted, all general meetings held by elected officials are open to the public. This includes:

  1. Local Government - The Portsmouth City Council generally meets on the second and fourth Mondays and Tuesdays of each month. Council is comprised of seven (7) members including the mayor).
  2. State Government - In Virginia, our state elected legislators (Delegates and Senators) meet annually. The Virginia General Assembly is comprised of 140 members (40 senators; 100 delegates).
  3. Federal Government - They generally meet year round, with periodic breaks. Congress consists of 535 members (100 senators/435 congressmen).

What Branch of Government to Contact with an Issue? 

When advocating for or against an issue, it is important to know which level of government has the ability and/or authority to address the matter. 

  1. Do not take local issues to your federal or state government elected officials (i.e., ordinances, parking, street repairs, bus service, etc.) 
  2. Do not take state or federal issues to your local government officials (i.e., Constitutional Amendments, local government Charter changes, penal system issues, mass transportation, tuition and fees, etc.)  
  3. Do not take federal issues to your state and local representatives (i.e., Social Security, Internal Revenue, Medicaid or Medicare, military issues, etc.).

To contact your representatives, click here.

For proper engagement with a representative, look at these tips.