The Voter

I care about people having access to the information they need
to participate in decisions that affect them.
— Janice Keller

Co-President’s Message - August 2019

Traditionally the League slows down over the summer before kicking off our program of work each fall. So much for tradition: it’s been another busy summer as members continued to work on our core programs for voter registration, engagement, and education. Voter registration efforts in underserved areas and among youth have been particularly successful to-date thanks to the efforts of many volunteers, led and coordinated by Cam Kerst. Once again, Helen Campbell and our talented Voter Services team organized primary election forums and all were well-attended by League members and the public. At short notice, we were able to co-host an additional forum with the Lynden Tribune, focusing on the primary candidates for Lynden City Council. The Voter Services team is now planning for the four general election forums we will be hosting this fall in Lynden, Ferndale, and Bellingham. The high level of interest in running for local elected offices this year is exciting and a good sign for local democracy. In addition, we’ve seen widespread appreciation for the League’s nonpartisanship and commitment to civil discourse that are always in evidence at our election forums.

At our February 2018 Program Planning meeting, members agreed that we should review our League positions using a racial equity lens to see how well the positions reflect the rapidly changing national dialogue about equity, diversity, and inclusion. Since then, our Racial Equity/Healthy Democracy group has been working on just such a review of our League’s current position on Women’s Economic Security (WES). At our membership meeting on September 21, 2019, we will consider proposed revisions to the WES position, based on the review team’s work. Team leader Kay Ingram writes:

“While the substance of the WES position statement correctly identified the major elements critical to addressing the ability of women in Whatcom County to achieve economic security, it clearly needed to be more explicit…in recognizing how the effects of racial inequity and lack of inclusivity can compound the difficulties that women face…We reached into the community to seek different voices, different stories, and opinions. Fortunately, as a result, younger women and women of color have joined us in our work. Their contributions have enriched our conversations, our discussions, and our research.”

And what of the future? Our League is changing, and the environment in which we do our work is changing too. Our local League continues its steady growth in membership. A changing membership means that strategies which may have worked for us in the past must be reviewed and possibly modified or retooled for the journey forward. This includes, among other things, how we schedule and run meetings, how we communicate with members, and how we manage our volunteer programs to accommodate our members’ interests and concerns. New volunteers are often looking for focused and meaningful activities that move the needle measurably on issues about which they care passionately. In June, we held a workshop for our board and leadership on managing volunteers, presented by non-profit consultant Virginia Lang. We gained valuable insights and best practices that we plan to incorporate into our League management toolbox.

We are not alone in considering the path forward on the League’s transformation journey. Outgoing LWV Seattle-King County President Stephanie Cirkovich has written a thoughtful article in the summer 2019 newsletter of their League, entitled “Reflecting on Our Future”. She notes that the Seattle-King County League is “moving away from an organizational model that focuses on slow, deliberative studies and discussion toward a model that is more immediate and action-oriented,” and that while they understand the need to be “both methodical and quick to act when necessary,” they have to prioritize carefully in order to make the best use of their members’ energy and time.

There is much to do, and like other Leagues, we must manage our energy and our resources - primarily people and time - carefully to make sure we remain effective and relevant through our next hundred years.

Please join us at the membership meeting on September 21 to find out more about the programs for the coming year and sign up for some of our many activities, both serious and celebratory!

Yours in League,
Heather MacKay Brown

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Recent Issues

September 2019 Kick off meeting, In-depth Discussion of WES Position Revisions

August 2019  Transformation Journey at the Local Level

July 2019  State Convention, Voter Forums, Paddle to Lummi, & More

June 2019  Annual Meeting Highlights, Voter Service, 2020 Celebration & More

April 2019 Programs, Annual Meeting, 2020 Celebration & Much More

March 2019 Programs, Lobby, Day, TRY Thanks, and League News

February 2019 2020 Census, Carrie Chapman Catt, & Much More

January 2019 Program Planning, Lobbying for League Issues & Redistricting

December 2018  Taking Stock & Celebrating 2018 Accomplishments

November 2018  Immigration Issues & Educational Forum

October 2018  Fall Forums & Getting Out the Vote

September 2018  Membership Meetings & More

July 2018  Educating Voters

June 2018  Empowering Voters & Defending Democracy

May 2018  Annual Meeting, Registration, Advocacy Work

April 2018  Voting is the Heart of Democracy

February 2018  Making Our Voices Heard

January 2018  League Seeks Leadership Nominations & More

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