Election Forums 2016:
League Serves as Hub of Election Information
By Annette Holcomb and Jill Bernstein, Forum Coordinators
Leagues throughout the country have been doing their part to promote civil discussion and make sure that voters have solid and unbiased information about their candidates and their vote. We are proud to be a part of that effort!
For one week in October, our League was at the hub of the election by presenting three forums with the candidates and issues important to our community. Our forums were well attended, lively conversations that were also watched on BTV (see video links in box on left) and listened to on KMRE and KAVZ radio. If a local voter wanted information to help with their vote, we were the trusted, go-to source. None of this would have been possible without the dedication and enthusiasm of our great forum team and the many volunteers who answered "yes" to the call for help at the events!
Kudos to these members who made it all happen:
- Question writers: Elsie Heinrick, Jean Carmean, Kirsten Barron, Amory Peck, Annette Holcomb, and their stellar, dedicated leader, Jo Collinge
- Forum moderators: Jill Bernstein, Amory Peck, Rebecca Johnson
- Timers: Riley Abel and Carol Comeau
- Question screeners: Jo Collinge, Amy Cloud, Jean Carmean, Judy Hopkinson, Jill Bernstein, Jayne Freudenberger, Elsie Heinrick
- Publicity: Allison Aurand and Janice Keller
- Support teams: Georgia MacGregor, who recruited the support team for each of the events and ensured that supplies were ready, every base was covered, and candidates, guests and members were made welcome. Many thanks to the following members and friends who pitched in for one or more of our forums: Ann Walton, Lorene Lewis, Elizabeth Dean, Jane Lowery, Darlene McLeod, Jan Fensch, Carole Hanaway, Laurie Hoyt, Jean Scribner, Heather MacKay-Brown, Silvia Kramer, Elaine Woods, Alice Litton, Gwen McEwen, Judith Akins, Judy Hopkinson, Susan Mancuso.
We are very grateful for the generous gift of your time and energy to make it all happen. This is truly a great service to our community.
Voter service continues
Life continues after the election, and so will our voter service. You can get involved in our work providing solid information on issues. Join our publicity team or our voter registration team. We intend to expand our voter registration in the high schools this year and we will update our directory of government officials, titled They Represent You. There are many ways to get involved, and we welcome your energy and your new ideas.
Photos by Paul Moore - Top of page: Spokespeople discuss the pros and cons of Initiative 1433. Above: Audience members prepare to hear about the issues.
Proud & Thankful
Leaving the third of our three forums on Saturday afternoon, it was hard not to be overcome with a sense of pride and immense gratitude for the amazing league members who put in the time and effort to make the forums happen. Until you see a forum in action it’s hard to imagine all the work that these entail.
We are so thankful for Annette Holcomb and Jill Bernstein who agreed to coordinate the forums this year, taking on what to us seemed like a daunting task when Tanya Baumgart left the voter services position. We are also thankful to all of the volunteers who worked on making the forums a success. There is not one single task related to the forums executed without thoughtful preparation and attention to our (sacred!) non-partisan, non-biased role in providing voter education.
An example of this care was demonstrated when determining whether we would announce that the LWVWA was supporting two of the ballot measures presented on October 22. Annette went to the web to find LWVUS and LWVWA policy related to such action, and followed up with an inquiry to state president Ann Murphy. Ann responded with clarity – unlike advocacy, voter services is non-partisan, non-biased – and our decision was easy: we did not share the League positions on the measures.
As we reflect on what we are thankful for this month, each of our members can be proud and thankful of the work our organization does for our community.
We wish you all a terrific Thanksgiving holiday with your family and friends. See you on November 19th!
Judy Hopkinson and Rebecca Johnson
Join us for
In League: Shaping Our Future
10 a.m. – Noon, Saturday, November 19
(Doors open at 9:30 a.m. for coffee and conversation)
Bellingham Public Library, Central Library Lecture Room
210 Central Avenue, Bellingham
Enjoy socializing with League members and discussing current League projects and future possibilities!
Following a brief introduction, League leaders will move from table to table (‘speed dating’ style) to share what they and their committees are doing and how you can participate. You will have the chance to share your ideas for improving, expanding or reshaping efforts in specific areas of our work. Bring your questions, your creativity and your passion for connection, and let’s see how we can work together to create the involved and informed community we want in Whatcom County.
Members, prospective members and guests are all welcome. For more information, contact Judy Hopkinson at (360) 734-2366.
** Cookies needed! If your last name begins with J-Q, please bring cookies or snacks and arrive a little early if possible! **
Join us for
Conversations with Elected Officials
5 - 7 p.m. Thursday, December 8
Bellingham YWCA Ballroom
1026 N Forest Street, Bellingham
This is an annual event hosted by your League that gives us an opportunity to meet and talk to local elected officials. All Whatcom County elected officials have been invited to attend. This is an opportunity to visit with elected officials about the things that are important to you, in an informal, relaxed wine-and-appetizer party atmosphere.
While this event is intended for League members, you are encouraged to bring guests. This is a great way to introduce your friends and neighbors to the League! Wine, non-alcoholic beverages and appetizers provided. Please confirm your attendance by contacting us at (360) 734-2366 or by email at Conversations@lwvbellinghamwhatcom.org.
MEET A MEMBER
By Jayne Freudenberger
Not everyone has a mother who would go all the way to Nepal to tell her daughter she had been accepted to graduate school. But April Barker’s mom served as role model and encourager-in-chief to get her to apply. So she joined April’s Nepalese trek to give her daughter the good news of her acceptance to Western Washington University’s graduate program.
April’s career goal of being an Olympic volleyball player was derailed when her full-ride scholarship to Kent State University was rescinded after two years, a shoulder injury taking her out of contention.
Her mother’s path out of poverty had been education, being the first in her family to go to college. As she followed her mom’s career moves, April coached in various locations and finally graduated from Durango College in 1999. Her graduate degree from WWU would prepare her for a new career path in sports psychology. When she met her future husband, a teacher at Nooksack Middle School—she calls it kismet—April chose to make Bellingham her home.
She learned to paint, drywall and lay tile remodeling their first small house while raising her two children. Renting that house, the family moved to Birchwood hoping to give their kids a diverse experience at the neighborhood school. But then Birchwood Elementary was scheduled to close prior to rebuilding, so the family moved again so the kids could go to Parkview Elementary School.
Meanwhile, April kept her footprint in the Birchwood neighborhood as president of the neighborhood association—they still owned the house they eventually moved back into. Jack Weiss, who was then Ward 1 City Councilmember, urged her to run for his seat when he retired. April ran unopposed, and is currently serving a four-year term that began last January.
Her passion for working on equity issues stems both from her younger experiences of poverty and her ethnicity—she is a member of the Cherokee Nation. In addition to equity issues she cares about encouraging a culture of voting. She has been instrumental in educating people in her neighborhood on the power of their vote, and she has carried this work into her efforts with the League.
April said she was amazed at the “radical openness” of the women she met at a League meeting and joined when she learned the League was working on the same issues she cared about. She loves the openness of the League and the ease of volunteering.
“I don’t have to take charge,” she says with a smile. “I can participate and learn.”
WES Continuing the Conversation Update
I am often asked why the Continuing the Conversation on women’s economic security moved to discussing issues of equity and inclusion for everyone in our county.
As our report Women's Economic Security in Whatcom County demonstrated: “This is not just a woman’s issue; it is everybody’s issue.” Issues of equitable and inclusive access to affordable, safe and healthy housing, expanded public transportation, affordable college education, and child care and schools to support their children, cannot be addressed only as they relate to the needs of women.
Our WES team is currently focusing on writing vision and mission statements. Other next steps include developing a definition of equity and inclusion that will provide us with a mutual understanding of these terms, and examining available data on various measures of equity and inclusion in Whatcom County.
These topics will be the focus of our November meetings. We will meet at 1 p.m. Tuesday, November 8 and Tuesday, November 22 in the conference room at the Whatcom Center for Philanthropy.
Submitted by Kay Ingram, WESCC Convener
Healthcare Committee Update
Susan Eidenschink, LWVWA lobbyist from the Pierce-Tacoma League, joined us in October to discuss topics of interest to members following healthcare. She shared the positions of the League of Women Voters of Washington State and U.S., as well as current healthcare legislation.
The committee was interested in learning how we can work constructively on healthcare issues to promote better healthcare for all residents of Whatcom County. Susan suggested the most useful approach is to work on healthcare programs that the League, either at the national or state level, has already supported.
Examples of programs already being supported by LWVWA or LWVUS include:
- The Washington Health Security Trust, a single payer proposal that has been submitted to the state legislature. Another bill proposed in 2014 is “Healthcare is a Human Right” calls for healthcare coverage for all residents of the state.
- “Surprise billing” legislation, sponsored by state Insurance Commissioner Mike Kreidler, which protects consumers from unexpected out-of-network bills.
- Initiative 1491, which would implement “extreme risk protection orders” by allowing families or law-enforcement to petition the court to have a person’s access to firearms temporarily removed if they are proven to be a threat to themselves or others.
Susan reminded us that one of the most powerful ways we, as individuals, can help make change happen is to contact our representatives on issues of concern. Also, developing informal collaborative programs with state and local healthcare organizations to promote the best interest of Whatcom County residents is a good strategy.
Our next meeting is 10-11:30 a.m. November 21 at the downtown Community Food Coop. All League members are welcome to join us.
Submitted by Sheri Lambert, Healthcare Committee Co-Chair