Because "My Most Excellent Dude/Dudette" May Be Frowned Upon
May 2, 2023 6:44 PM   Subscribe

I'm organizing a political event which will have some local elected officials (city councilpersons, district and superior court judges, other county-level elected officials, etc.). I'm am struggling to figure out how to address them in our program. Are they all "The Honorable Bob Hob"? Or would I put "City Councilor Bob Hob"? "Registrar of Deeds Bob Hob"? Or just Bob Hob? How about Judge Bob Hob? Is he "Judge Bob Hob" or something else?

This is surprisingly difficult to google, and records from the group's previous events are not easily accessible.

Does anyone know the protocol around these things? I would very much like to avoid offending anyone.

I'm in a mid-sized city in the Southern USA.
posted by jeoc to Law & Government (12 answers total)
The term you want is “forms of address.” This site has info on addressing individuals in a wide variety of positions and has a whole subpage in the use of The Honorable
posted by donut_princess at 7:13 PM on May 2 [2 favorites]

Yes, you want to refer to officials by their honorific titles to indicate that they are being invited to the event in their official capacity, which also carries the assumption that they will be interacting accordingly (e.g. saying a few words, answering questions, chatting with constituents, etc.).
posted by Violet Blue at 7:16 PM on May 2 [2 favorites]

Can you ask their office? they'd know for sure.
posted by Sebmojo at 7:17 PM on May 2 [1 favorite]

Getting the honorifics right is a good idea, but in the program, it's probably most important to specify what their jobs are (i.e., city council member, superior court judge, etc.). The program is there to be a reference for the audience, so they know exactly what these people do. Of course you can do both.
posted by Artifice_Eternity at 7:43 PM on May 2

Best answer: I do this as part of my job. The correct way for a printed program is Title of Office Jane Doe. Most or all of your elected officials are probably entitled to use "The Honorable" but I wouldn't in this case; the people attending the political event will appreciate you using titles instead, and not using "The Honorable" in this occasion will not cause offense.

For Bob Hob, if he is a judge, he would be listed as Full Title (i.e. Circuit Court Judge Bob Hob or State Supreme Court Justice Bob Hob). If he's a city councilor, you'd list him as Councilman* Bob Hob. County Commissioner? Commissioner Bob Hob. Etc.

If you want me to scan over the program, I'm happy to do so. MeMail me, if so!

*you could absolutely remove gender from this title and go with Councilperson Bob Hob. That is what I do and it is acceptable. You may get varying degrees of people muttering about "wokeness" if you do; just be prepared.
posted by cooker girl at 7:47 PM on May 2 [6 favorites]

You can't just call the city councilor Councillor Bob Bob? Pretty sure that's what we do here (Toronto, Canada).
posted by any portmanteau in a storm at 7:56 PM on May 2 [2 favorites]

any portmanteau in a storm: Yes! If there is only one City Councilor, then it would be City Councilor Bob Hob. But generally in the U.S., there are multiple Councilpeople who sit on City Council. I could absolutely be wrong in this case (perhaps jeoc's city has only the one City Councilor, but jeoc did say "city councilpersons, so I'm guessing there are multiple), but, for example, my city council has 9 members.

In any case, the convention in the U.S. is "City Councilperson/man/woman First Name Last Name. We don't address them (if there are multiple) as simply "Councilor First Name Last Name.
posted by cooker girl at 8:30 PM on May 2 [1 favorite]

In Albuquerque, we call our City Council members "Councilor Firstname Lastname." It makes no difference how many there are.
posted by NotLost at 8:38 PM on May 2

That is a new one on me, NotLost, and not at all what I've been accustomed to in the U.S. I suppose I should amend my comment above to be: "the conventional generally in the U.S. is..." :)
posted by cooker girl at 8:55 PM on May 2

My grandfather the judge was generally referred to as The Honorable Judge Hob Nob of the Superior Court of New York. I do not think he would have been offended if he was simply referred to as Superior Court Judge Hob Nob. I am with cooker girl. I think the program should be a combination of descriptive, respectful and helpful to those needing the program to know the players.
posted by JohnnyGunn at 10:31 PM on May 2

Best answer: I am a local elected official! Violet Blue and cooker girl are both exactly right.
posted by saladin at 5:34 AM on May 3 [3 favorites]

Response by poster: So helpful! Thank you!

Thankfully my constituency doesn't use "woke" pejoratively.
posted by jeoc at 6:11 AM on May 3 [1 favorite]

« Older Induction burner questions   |   Best way to get around Albuquerque given... Newer »

You are not logged in, either login or create an account to post comments