The Voter, January 2015 news from the  League of Women Voters of Bellingham/Whatcom County'

League of Women Voters of Bellingham/Whatcom County Officers and Directors
Jill Bernstein, Co-President
Annette Holcomb, Co-President
Jo Collinge, Vice President
Amy Van Pelt, Secretary
Donna Packer, Treasurer
Tanya Baumgart
Jean Carmean
Judy  Corliss
Jayne Freudenberger
Elsie Heinrick
Judy Hopkinson
Rebecca Johnson
Susan Mancuso


Healthcare Committee
2015 Kick-off Meeting

January 12, 2015  
12:00 - 1:30 PM  
Co-Op Connections Building
1220 North Forest Street

Questions? Contact Sheri Lambert at (360) 398-2064
Healthcare Committee Details Below 

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Program Planning Meeting 

Guest Speaker: Professor Dana Jack, WWU
January  17, 2015
11:45 AM - 2:00 PM
Potluck Lunch

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Living on the Brink: Women's Economic Security in Whatcom County
February 21, 2015
Doors open at 9:30 AM
Program 10:00 AM - 12:00 Noon
Bellingham Technical College

Settlemyer Hall


Other Community Events

Swearing-In of the
Honorable Raquel Montoya-Lewis

to the
Whatcom County Superior Court
January 16, 2015
3:30 p.m.
Whatcom County Courthouse
311 Grand Ave
Bellingham, WA 98225

The public is cordially invited to attend the swearing-in ceremony which will include Judge Charles Snyder as Master of Ceremonies and remarks by Governor Jay Inslee.

 Click here for more information about the event and Judge Montoya-Lewis.  

* * *

Referendums on Independence
January 14, 2015
6:30 - 8:30 PM 
Whatcom Museum - Lightcatcher 
Speaker: WWU Professor, Todd Donovan
Program sponsored by WWU Alumni Association 

More information
Did you know...
  • 16.6 percent of Whatcom County’s resident population lived below the poverty level in 2012, and this is higher than the State of Washington (13.5%).
  • 42 percent of single-parent families with female heads of household lived below the poverty line.
  • 19 percent of children under the age of five lived below the poverty level.
  • Only 1 in 3 Whatcom homeless families who apply for housing can be placed with the resources currently available
Come & learn more at the February 21st LWV Program:
 Living on the Brink: Women's Economic Security in Whatcom County

Independence Movements Far and Near 

WWU Political Science Professor Todd Donovan discusses “Referendums on Independence” following a wine and hors d’oeuvre reception from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. on Wednesday, January 14 in the Whatcom Museum Lightcatcher building, 250 Flora St., Bellingham.

This is an issue close to home as the County Charter Review Commission begins its work this month. In the early 1990s, there was a movement to form a separate Independence County in the eastern areas of Whatcom County because residents felt they lacked adequate representation in their government. It’s an issue that continues today. 

Donovan, who is a member of the Review Commission, will share his insights on the origins of independence movements in Scotland, Catalan, Crimea,Texas – and elsewhere. He went to Scotland to observe that referendum.

His research is on elections, representation, voting, public opinion, and direct democracy. 

Reservations are $12 for WWU Alumni Association members and $17 for non-members. Twofifty/flora, the museum café, will provide appetizers, and one glass of wine is included with admission.

Register at or call the WWU Alumni Office at 360-650-3353. 

They Represent You

We are looking for members to help update our directory of elected officials called They Represent You. Names and addresses must be verified for accuracy. 

Qualifications needed: commitment to the task, attention to detail, internet and/or phone skills, and computer skills would be icing-on-the-cake!

The "TRY" Directory is one of the important public services we provide.  Several thousand brochures are distributed throughout the county, free of charge, and the information is also available on our 

Contact us if you would like to be involved.  

Here's to Your Good Health in 2015

Our members are concerned about improving everyone's health care this year.  Thus we are kicking off the year with a new focus on our Healthcare Committee.  The committee's mission is to ensure the community is well informed on emerging health care issues and to recommend appropriate action to the LWV Board. 

Committee participants will set their priorities about what aspects of health care they wish to follow.

Thanks to our members, Betsy Gross, Karl Kleeman and Sheri Lambert, who have stepped forward to lead this committee. They each have extensive knowledge and professional experience in aspects of our complicated health care system.

January 12, 2015
Connections Building
Community Food Co-op
12:00 noon - 1:30 PM

Please park on the street, and leave the parking lot space available for co-op shoppers.


Annual Conversations with Elected Officials Party


January 2015 

 Potluck Lunch with League

Plus a Potpourri of Hot Topics  


League Program Planning Meeting,
Potluck & Guest Speaker 

January 17, 2015

YWCA Ballroom

1026 North Forest Street
Doors open at 11:30
11:45 AM - 2:15 PM

Members and guests are welcome to join us for this lunchtime meeting.

* * * * *

Guest Speaker
  Dr. Dana Jack, WWU
"Women Silencing the Self - Dangers and Possibilities"
Our speaker, Dana Jack, will address the topic of women and depression, as well as the common tendency for women to silence themselves, based on her many years of international research on the topic. Dr. Jack is a Psychologist and earned her BA at Mount Holyoke College, her MSW at University of Washington, and her Ed.D. at Harvard University.

As a Fulbright Scholar to Nepal in 2001, she taught in a graduate women's studies program at Tribhuvan University, Kathmandu, and also completed research on gender and depression in Patan Mental Hospital and Tribhuvan University Teaching Hospital.

Dr. Jack teaches at Western Washington University's Fairhaven College of Interdisciplinary Studies in the areas of culture, gender and psyche, and she recently returned from another research project in Nepal.   
* * * * *

Program Planning Discussion
This is our annual program planning meeting where members gather to identify issues we want our local league, as well as the state league, to address in the next year. This planning process influences the direction of our league’s work, so your ideas and involvement at this meeting are highly valued.  

Bring a friend or two and introduce them to the wonders of our League! Doors open at 11:30 and the potluck begins at 11:45.   

And that's not all – we will have a fun book exchange. Bring a good book, leave it on the exchange table and pick up something new you'd like to read.  

Members, please bring food to share at the potluck, and we will provide beverages, plates and utensils.   
Last names beginning with A through G –Salad
H through Q - Main Dish
R through Z  - Dessert



Conversations with Elected Officials 
December 10th, 2014

The YWCA Ballroom looked very festive for our annual party with elected officials, and a good time was had be all!  Hat's off to our members who helped to make this an enjoyable evening. We also thank Trader Joe's for their support.

A big thank you to Kathy Gablehouse, Sheri Lambert, and Jill Bernstein for organizing the event.  Thanks also go to Tanya Baumgart, invitations; Kaye Dykas and Loretta Hogg, decorations; and our greeters Rebecca Johnson and Ursula Zvilna.  Marsha & Bob Reik, John and Christine Turnbaugh,  Keith Phelps, Lynn Rein and Michael Waite kept the food table well-supplied, dishes washed, and wine glasses filled.

Mouth-watering appetizers were provided by Naomi Bunis, Margaret Woll, Leslie McFee, Linda Melland, Mary Swenson, Carol Dukes, Jean Waight, Edwina Kleeman, Christine Turnbaugh, Marianne Phelps, Ann Walton, Marsha Reik, Susan Hirst, Elaine Woods and Lynn Rein.  We know that others pitched in behind the scenes to help us make the event run smoothly, and we are grateful to each and every one of you!   

Democracy is the worst form of government except all the others that have been tried
As we write this first message of 2015, the new Congress is about to open and the legislature is poised to begin work in our State. We all wonder what our elected officials have in store for us. At times, it feels as though government is happening in a remote location and that the work that is being done for happening to us. We write to remind you that this does not have to be the case. 

It is the League’s mission to strengthen democracy through education and advocacy. The League of Women Voters will help to support and empower you to make democracy work better during the legislative session in two very important ways.
  1. You can count on us to provide you with the facts that you need in order to understand the issues.
  2. We can help you know when and how to make your voice heard by those in power.
Your calls and letters do matter!

Last summer Carl Weimer told the League that when the county council gets 10 letters on a subject, it feels like a tsunami. The same holds true for those in Olympia and Washington DC.

Finally, if you are feeling discouraged, it might help to recall the struggle for women's suffrage and the tireless work of the men and women in that fight:  

It took 56 campaigns of referenda to get the word 'male' out of the U. S. Constitution....480 campaigns to get legislatures to submit suffrage amendments to voters; 47 campaigns to get state constitutional conventions to write women suffrage into state constitutions, 277 campaigns to get state party conventions to include woman suffrage planks, 30 campaigns to get presidential party conventions to adopt     woman suffrage planks in party platforms and 19 campaigns with 19 congresses...   

These statistics were taken from an excellent book about the suffragettes - Sisters, by Jean Baker.  

So our message this month is to get involved and speak out!

Check our Jean Carmean's article about our advocacy work, below, and remember democracy is not a spectator sport.

 Jill Bernstein and Annette Holcomb, Co-Presidents


Introducing Riley Abel 

Each month The Voter will bring you a profile of a new League member. This is another installment in that series.
Riley Abel is new to Whatcom County and new to our local League, but he is hardly new to the League of Women Voters.  Riley’s mother is Kim Abel who currently serves as the President of the League of Women Voters of Washington.  At age 24, Riley reports that the League has been a part of his life since the family moved to Washington when he was very young.  When he was a child, his mother took him along to meetings, and so Riley feels he's been involved with the League since he was 8 years old.

Independent of his family, Riley was drawn to the League because he respects the values of the organization, its famed impartiality and its effectiveness in getting things done.  He is uncomfortable with much of the venom in politics and finds the League to be a reasoned way for him to be involved in civic activities. 

Riley graduated from the University of Oklahoma with a degree in mathematics. He reports that this education helped him to develop his logic, strategy and problem-solving skills. While in school, he worked as a tutor and found that he really enjoyed helping others to learn. Currently, he is employed part time at BTC as a math and writing tutor.  While he is still uncertain as to his career path, he thinks that computers and computer programming will be a part of that future.

Riley has already participated in our election forums (where he used those math and computer skills to time the candidates), and he is now a volunteer Observer reporting on the meetings of the Bellingham City Council. He would like to be involved with the League as much as possible during his time in Bellingham. Believing that a democracy cannot work with uninformed voters, he would like to help educate voters. He is also interested in new and creative ways to promote membership within the League. With his special tech skills, he believes that he can also assist us with our web presence. Finally, Riley sees the League as a vehicle for learning how things work in the ‘real world’.    

     Join us in welcoming Riley Abel to the League.

An Opportunity is Just Around the Corner!


Consider serving on the LWV of Bellingham/Whatcom County's Board of Directors - a Great Opportunity!

The nominating committee is preparing a slate of candidates for the League's Board of Directors - who will be elected at our annual meeting this spring. We are looking for people who are interested in the League's goals, and are willing to serve as elected officers and members of the Board to manage the League's work.  

Our League currently has five elected officers: two co-presidents, one first vice president, a secretary, and a treasurer.  There are six elected directors who work on portfolios of interest; i.e., membership, voter service, education, communication. 

Board members usually serve two-year terms. They meet once a month in members' homes to conduct the business of the organization while engaging in stimulating  discussions on topics of interest.  

If you would like more information about participating on the board of this dynamic organization, please contact a member of the nominating committee: Margaret Woll, Chairman; Tanya Baumgart;  Jayne Freudenberger; Georgia MacGregor; or Lynne Rein.

 We'd be happy to talk more with you about this opportunity! 
Margaret Woll (360) 734-8427

Focusing on the Legislature

With the legislative session about to begin, the League members who have volunteered to advocate with our own representatives and other legislators and elected officials will be swinging into action. Late last summer and early fall, quite a few of you agreed to contact legislators on matters of interest to you, based on state and local League positions.
Jean Carmean, our local Legislative Liaison with the State Lobby Team, will be forwarding action requests to members of the various interest groups when advocacy is needed.  

E-mails and phone calls to our elected representatives really do have an impact.  We have heard that ten contacts on a given issue will make an elected official take note.  If you are interested in being involved but have not yet so indicated, please contact Jean at 360-733-2308 or at  

This year the League of Women Voters of Washington has defined the following legislative priorities:
PROTECT DEMOCRACY:  Expand Opportunities to Meaningfully Participate in Elections. Minimize the Influence of Money in Politics. Promote More Representative Elections Systems.

RAISE REVENUE:  Adopt Balanced, Fair, Adequate and Flexible State Revenue Policies to Meet Critical Needs.

ADDRESS CLIMATE CHANGE:  Implement Best Practices to Reduce Greenhouse Gas Emissions and to Protect Air and Water Quality. Incorporate Environmental Quality and Public Health Impacts in Transportation Decisions - Particularly Regarding Fossil Fuels.

SUPPORT EDUCATION: Fully Fund Basic Education as Defined by The Legislature and Required by the State Constitution.

Clearly these priorities raise a number of hot button issues. Each one of your voices is necessary in order for the League to be successful. 
Jean Carmean, Advocacy Co-Chair
The VOTER,  January 2015
Voter Editor, Annette Holcomb
Our mailing address is:
League of Women Voters of Bellingham/Whatcom County
P.O. Box 4041, Bellingham, WA 98227
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