January 2017
Great ideas are the result of League members working together, as we saw in our Shaping Our Future event in November. The January 28 planning meeting offers another opportunity to weigh in on League priorities. Photo of November meeting by Judy Hopkinson.

Selecting Priorities For The Year Ahead


We invite every member to join us in a lively discussion January 28 to select the issues that will be our priorities for the year ahead. The League is a grassroots organization and you, our members, have the chance to plant those grass seeds at our annual program planning meeting: 

10 a.m. to Noon, Saturday, January 28
Central Library Lecture Room

Bellingham Public Library
210 Central Avenue
(9:30 social time/doors open at the downstairs, Lottie Street entrance)

Program planning is a three-part process that is a core component of the League’s mission. We study issues, come to consensus on our position about the issue and then we advocate with one voice for action. Program planning is stage one of deciding what we might study in the next year or two. Every year we discuss our local program. In alternate years, we also discuss either state or national program issues and this is the year for Washington State program planning. 

Program planning reveals interests leading to WES
How does it all fit together? Here’s an example: At our January program planning meeting a few years ago, we discovered many members were passionate about poverty and income inequality. We decided to study women’s economic security in Whatcom County. In keeping with our love of acronyms, the study became known as WES.  

What an invigorating experience it was for our League! To quote a member of the study group: “The WES study allowed me to participate in satisfying team work, an opportunity to build a close rapport with team members… We had to gather a multitude of information for analysis so that our conclusions were reliable. Our goal always was to seek credible and reliable sources to support our findings. Being a part of the WES study reinforced my commitment to accuracy, documentation, and the hard reality of what is truth.”

Our final WES report was produced in February 2014 and now we’re taking action to support measures that will make a difference and support women striving for financial security. Information about WES, including the final report, can be found on the WES page of our website.

Meeting also considers education program topics
At this year’s January 28th meeting, we’ll also explore potential topics for educational programs that our League will present in the coming year. Topics are selected to help our members and area residents better understand important issues. These topics may lead us to adopt a formal study or they may be issues that we have already studied but have current interest in the community. Some hot topics already suggested to us include democratic participation, health care, issues of human rights, public education, building a culture of voting, and climate change. 

Are there other local issues that we should consider:

  • Issues holding a vital concern to our members and community and our state that demand attention now?
  • Issues where the League’s special expertise would be valuable?
  • Issues that can result in positive changes when informed citizens work on them?

Join us for a lively discussion and come prepared to share your passions, listen to others, ask questions and reach agreement about our priorities for the coming year or two! 

Check out the issues that our local league has studied in the past and positions we’ve developed by reviewing this compilation of positions taken by our League, posted on our website. 

Cookies needed: If your last name begins with R-Z, please bring cookies or snacks and arrive a little early if possible!

Make a Difference, Join the League Board


Would you like to make a positive difference in your community? Gain knowledge about issues, develop some skills, and make new friends? These are some of the benefits of being a member of the Board of Directors of the League.

The Board meets monthly, makes policy decisions and sets goals for our organization. Board members typically lead a committee to carry out an important aspect of our program. Being on the board of our well-respected organization can be a rewarding and enjoyable experience.

We have 13 people on the board now and the nominating committee is looking for members to fill a few vacancies that will be open in June 2017. To learn more about this opportunity, or recommend a potential leader to us, please contact nominating committee chair, Annette Holcomb at anholc43@gmail.com. 

Meanwhile, any member is welcome to visit and observe board meetings, which are typically scheduled on the first Thursday evening of each month at a member’s home. Contact us for details.

Looking Forward To An Amazing New Year


Welcome to the new year, Leaguers. It is going to be remarkable. Already we are witnessing an amazing upsurge in civic involvement, and that is great news for our country, no matter which party is in power. 

For too long we have seen widespread apathy and low voter turnout undermine our democratic process. But suddenly, throughout the country more and more citizens seem to be stepping up, joining organizations, and making their voices heard. The power citizens hold in a democracy is emerging as a central dynamic.

On January 20th we will witness the peaceful transition of power. Regardless of your political persuasion, this peaceful transition and the dramatic rise in civic participation should make all of us proud and hopeful for our republic.

Women in particular are increasing their civic engagement. On January 21st, marches will be held throughout the country to clarify the values that women hold dear in our democracy. The League of Women Voters will officially participate in the women’s march in Washington DC. State and local Leagues will join marches in cities throughout the country. 

We were unable to obtain the required liability coverage to allow us to march as our local League, but many of our members will be marching as individuals. The local march is gathering at 10 a.m. on January 21 in front of Bellingham City Hall. Wear your League pins proudly!

As League members, we use our power wisely, and use this opportunity to make our voice heard on our priorities. 
  • We march for voting rights. 
  • We march to reform money in politics. 
  • We march for health care. 
  • We march for the environment.  
This march is an exercise of power. These words from Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. remind us why power is important and how it should be used.

“Power without love is reckless and abusive, and love without power is sentimental and anemic. Power at its best is love implementing the demands of justice, and justice at its best is power correcting everything that stands against love.” 

Now is the time for all of us to celebrate our democracy, raise our voices, and participate fully in the freedoms we possess as citizens in this remarkable country. 

In League, 

Judy Hopkinson & Rebecca Johnson

Kicking Off the Year with New Groups

Two new study groups are forming, with initial meetings this month. For more information about each group and future schedules, contact Judy Hopkinson

Climate Change Advocacy
5:30 p.m., Wednesday, January 18, at Judy Hopkinson’s home:
The new Climate Change Advocacy group will hold its first meeting. The group will begin with a review of the League's history of advocacy regarding Cherry Point, and will continue with an examination of League positions on climate change and fossil fuels. Please contact
Judy Hopkinson if you would like to attend.

Positions Study Group
5:30 p.m., Thursday, January 19, at Judy Hopkinson’s home: The new Positions Study Group will hold its first meeting. Participants will plan a schedule to review national, state, and local League positions on which League advocacy is based. Watch for a schedule of when each position topic will be studied. All League members who would like to participate are welcome to attend any of the subsequent topic meetings. Contact
Rebecca Johnson or Judy Hopkinson for more information. 

League Introduction Meeting in Ferndale

Please join us on February 4 at the beautiful Ferndale Library to learn more about the work of the League of Women Voters. The League is a nonpartisan political organization that encourages the informed and active participation of citizens in government, and influences public policy through education and advocacy.

Saturday, February 4, 2017
10:30 am - 12:30 pm
Ferndale Library, large meeting room
Light refreshments

In an effort to increase membership numbers and diversity, the League is inviting Ferndale community members to learn more about the League. The agenda will include a brief overview, followed by an informal conversation asking attendees how we might be of service to their community. Ideas include hosting forums, voter registration events, voter training, etc. Questions? Contact Rebecca Johnson at 360-734-2366

Tell Us What You Think About The Voter

We invite you to tell us what you think about The Voter and eBlasts, two key electronic communications tools of the League of Women Voters of Bellingham/Whatcom County. 

The Voter is generally distributed monthly by email except during the summer. Its main purpose is to keep members informed of the news, events, initiatives and people of our local League. 

"eBlasts" are short news items similar in format to The Voter that are sent electronically, as needed, to remind members of key events. Both The Voter and eBlasts are sent from an email distribution program called MailChimp.

We value your feedback and appreciate your time answering this short survey. We expect it will take you about five minutes to complete. Your answers are anonymous unless you choose to include identifying information in comment sections.

Here’s a link to the survey: Feedback about The Voter and eBlasts


Meet A Member:
Laurie Hoyt


Passion for teaching and learning and an appetite for adventure have led Laurie Hoyt to many of the successes in her life. 

Laurie is originally from Illinois, where she earned her teaching degree. Looking for new adventures she went to Australia to teach for two years, where perhaps her most memorable experience was a five-month motorcycle tour of the continent with a girlfriend. She returned to Illinois for her master’s degree and then moved to Wyoming because the teacher pay was good.

Laurie Hoyt met her husband Rob on a field trip with her 6th grade science class in the Powder River Basin coal country of Wyoming. He was their engineer guide and she confessed they flirted over the heads of the students. She was quick to invite him to a party that weekend and the match was sealed. She and Rob are pictured above at their daughter's wedding.

After her marriage and six years of teaching, she and her husband moved around the country following his career from Anchorage, Alaska to Oswego, New York. Their last move was to Bellingham in 1993 when Rob came to manage Encogen, the then-new power plant at Georgia Pacific. Here Laurie found her home, raised their two kids and taught 7th grade science at Fairhaven Middle school until her 2014 retirement.

Now she is a valued part of the League team. She helped run a successful voter registration drive at Sehome last spring, worked at voter and voter forum events and co-chaired last month’s Conversations with Elected Officials event. Laurie likes the League because she can learn about controversial issues in a non-confrontational way. She says she thinks the League is a good place to wield influence and is looking forward to getting more involved with advocacy, especially with climate change issues. 

Lest you think she has given up adventure, Laurie learned to scuba dive at the age of 55 and enjoys the sport even in our cold northwest waters.

Eagle-Eyed Leaguers Needed for TRY

The annual review, revision and distribution of our "They Represent You" (TRY) brochure is just beginning. We currently need data checkers and proofreaders. Our League has produced this brochure for decades, and it is distributed and appreciated throughout Whatcom County. Can you help? Please contact Tanya Baumgart at (360) 739-1427 or tbaumgt@gmail.com to share your talents. 

Request Ballots for Conservation District Election by Feb. 14

Ballots must be requested by February 14 to vote in the March 14 Conservation District election. The election for one seat on the Whatcom Conservation District Board will be held Tuesday March 14, 2017. You may vote in person that day or via mail. 

You must request a ballot by February 14 to participate by mail. Ballots can be requested by following this link, by telephone at (360) 526-2381 ext.101, or in person at the Conservation District Office, 6975 Hannegan Road, Lynden.

More information is available on the Whatcom Conservation District website and in the January 2017 issue of the Whatcom Watch: Whatcom Conservation District Election.

Education Programs in the Months Ahead

Mark your calendar! The following topics are planned for education programs in the months ahead. As schedules and locations sometimes change, please stay tuned to The Voter and our website for schedule and topic updates.

Saturday, February 18, 10 a.m., Bellingham Public Library Lecture Room: Sifting Fact from Fiction: Journalism in the Social Media Era. 

Saturday, March 18, 10 a.m., Bellingham Public Library Lecture Room: Topic to be determined, planning underway now.

Saturday, April 15, 10 a.m., Bellingham Public Library Lecture Room: Alternatives to incarceration will be the topic, planning underway now.

Advocacy Efforts Strong and Successful 


Advocacy around key local, state and national issues is an important role of the League of Women Voters. Local League volunteers working on advocacy efforts were very active last year and are preparing for a critical and dynamic year ahead. 

How does advocacy work? After research, study and deliberation among committee members, followed by Board review, the League writes letters and/or testifies in person in support of certain policies or actions. This advocacy work is based on the underlying principles and positions adopted by the League at the local, state, and national level.

Advocacy supports successes
For example, last year the League backed the procuring of new revenues, largely for schools and social programs such as health care and family issues, that appear in the Governor Jay Inslee’s proposed 2017-2019 budget, including closing tax exemption loopholes and instituting capital gains and carbon taxes. 

Recent advocacy efforts have focused heavily on stopping the export of fossil fuels to Asia via train and tankers in the Salish Sea. We’re pleased to report these recent successes, which are just a few of many issues that have been the focus of League letter-writing and testimony: 
  • Washington State Commissioner of Public Lands Peter Goldmark expanded the Cherry Point Aquatic Reserve, adding 45 acres previously considered for a large coal export terminal. 
  • Goldmark also rejected a proposal from Millennium Bulk Terminals to sublease state-owned aquatic lands on the Columbia River west of Longview.
  • Shell Anacortes withdrew a crude oil by rail facility which violated, among other things, an agreement with the Swinomish for a one-train-per-week limit across reservation lands. 
  • A Grays Harbor proposal for a crude oil by rail and tanker project was withdrawn after overwhelming opposition, including our local and state League. 
  • League representatives also have provided letters and testimony to City of Bellingham and Whatcom County governments regarding land use, water supply, fossil fuels and other issues, as appropriate based on the principles and positions adopted by the League.
Looking ahead to 2017
The state Legislature convened Jan. 9, 2017, so League members should soon begin receiving weekly updates from LWVWA's Lobby Team on issues that the League supports. This will be supplemented by efforts by our local League to highlight specific issues for our local interest groups. 

At the national level, particularly with a new administration in Washington D.C., it is hard to predict which issues will become paramount but we know there are several that will require major effort by Leagues at all levels. 

Of course democracy and voting rights protection are always on our agenda. 

Stay tuned to The Voter and other League communications for updates about advocacy efforts, and contact
Jean Carmean, Advocacy Chair, if you are interested in getting more involved.


Judy Hopkinson, Co-President
Rebecca Johnson, Co-President
Allison Aurand, Vice-President
Susan Mancuso, Secretary
Donna Williams, Treasurer

*Click underlined names for
email contact information
Riley Abel
Kirsten Barron
Jean Carmean
Amy Cloud
Caroline Correa
Karen Funston
Janice Keller
Joy Monjure
Copyright © 2017 Bellingham/Whatcom County League of Women Voters, all rights reserved.

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