Conversations with Elected Officials:
Good cheer and lively conversations
By Judy Hopkinson
Eighteen elected officials from Bellingham and throughout Whatcom County and a host of League members and guests braved the cold to attend this December 8 event, and they were rewarded with good cheer and lively conversation.
Each year our Conversations with Elected Officials mixer provides the League an opportunity to thank the dedicated women and men who run for and serve in public office. We are proud once again to have hosted a warm, rewarding, successful event with strong turnout.
The time and energy our elected officials give is a testament to their dedication to our community. We show our appreciation to every one of them at this annual event, regardless of party affiliation, by celebrating them with great food and wine in a relaxed atmosphere.
Thank you to our event organizers - Laurie Hoyt, Riley Abel and Tanya Baumgart – who did an outstanding job, and to League members and guests who pitched in with fabulous hors de oeuvres and helping hands.
Event photos by Amy Cloud & Pinky Vargas
Our Community Coming Together
We wanted to take this opportunity the share our heartfelt thanks for each of our members and your commitment to the principles of the League. We are facing a challenging time as our divided nation welcomes our 45th President. The transition news raises hopes and fears throughout the world.
It's no surprise that League membership has had an uptick since the election, here and all over the country. People are looking for a safe place to engage. As members of the League we have an opportunity to play an important role in creating space for our community to come together.
Moving forward, our goal is to continue to engage in nonpartisan activities that promote unbiased discussions and support the democratic process. We'll do this through our voter services activities, our educational programs, and our advocacy efforts.
We also want to wish you all terrific holidays with your friends and families.
Best to all of you and in League,
Judy Hopkinson and Rebecca Johnson
In League: Shaping Our Future
Co-President Rebecca Johnson summarizes the discussion at the November 19
Shaping Our Future event. Photo by Judy Hopkinson.
Discussion generates enthusiasm & great ideas
Thank you to members and guests who joined us at the In League: Shaping Our Future event on November 19, designed to engage participants in discussion about current League projects and future possibilities.
It was a lively event that showcased the determination and creativity of everyone present. League members and numerous guests learned about ongoing and upcoming projects during “speed dating” sessions and spent 15 minutes brainstorming ideas for the coming year.
"Intellectual activity spilled over into action, as participants moved about the room to place their names on giant sign-up sheets for a host of different projects," said Co-President Judy Hopkinson. "It was fun and invigorating, and we are all richer because of it."
She also noted that ideas generated in the brainstorming session were "eye opening" and will be on the agenda for consideration at the January Program Planning meeting. At this meeting, members will develop a list of recommendations for the State League 2017-2019 Program as well as priorities for our own programs in 2017-2018.
Thanks to the entire Board for planning the November meeting and thanks to our wonderful program and hospitality teams for pulling together all the back stage and on-site details that made the program run so smoothly.
Stand with us to stop voter suppression
By Rebecca Johnson, Co-President
It’s alarming to receive a press release from the League of Women Voters of the United States titled “The 2016 Presidential Election WAS Rigged."
LWVUS? Rigged election? Really? But if you haven’t read the LWVUS November 23, 2016 press release that outlines the voter suppression that occurred this past November, you are in for a real eye opener. It proves once again that our work is as important as ever, and we must be vigilant to ensure our democracy and right to vote.
“We recognize the importance of a peaceful transfer of power as a hallmark of a functioning democracy, and we recognize that we have one of the best election systems and democracies in the world, but we also need to say it out loud: This election was rigged. And it needs to stop,” LWVUS President Chris Carson stated in the release.
Across the country, there were concerted efforts in many states to stop some voters from voting or to make it much harder for them to participate. Legislators and election officials purged existing voters from the rolls, made cuts to early voting, reduced polling places, put in place strict voter photo ID laws, and levied onerous voter registration restrictions.
The LWVUS press release includes links to voter restrictions passed since the 2013 Supreme Court ruling on the Voting Rights Act in 13 states (Alabama, Arizona, Indiana, Kansas, Mississippi, New Hampshire, Ohio, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, and Wisconsin). Though nothing has been passed in Washington at this time, our vigilance is required to monitor legislative actions related to voter suppression in the coming year.
Journalist and author Ari Berman, who spoke at the League’s national convention last summer, noted in an article in The Nation that this was the first presidential election in 50 years without the full protections of the Voting Rights Act. He contends “this was the biggest under-covered scandal of the 2016 campaign.”
According to Berman, President-elect Trump beat Hillary Clinton by roughly 27,000 votes in Wisconsin, where 300,000 registered voters lacked strict forms of voter identification. Wisconsin voter turnout was at its lowest levels in 20 years, and decreased 13% in Milwaukee where 70 percent of the state’s African American population lives. Joan Walsh reported that in North Carolina, African American turnout decreased 16 percent during the first week of early voting because there were 158 fewer early voter polling places in 40 heavily black counties.
As Carson stated in the press release, “It is clear that this kind of voter suppression could impact the outcome of elections. We may never know whether the efforts to block voter participation changed the outcome in any particular race – but we must be on guard for the future.”
The LWV is gearing up to take a stand against voter suppression. Please let us know if you are interested in this work locally.
8 ways you can help defend democracy
This article was adapted by Rebecca Johnson from an original posted by Sarah Courtney on the LWVUS website, 11/30/2016. Many of the links are to the national League website, which has a lot of great information. Other useful LWV information can be found at www.forum.lwv.org
- Sign the League of Women Voter’s Petition
“I stand with the League to ensure that elections are always free, fair and accessible. I will work with the League to stop voter suppression tactics that threaten our democracy and the right to vote.”
- Become an e-Activist
Receive updates from the League and hold your elected officials accountable by taking action on the League’s key voting rights and other priorities. You can also sign-up for targeted advocacy announcement with our advocacy chair, Jean Carmean (firstname.lastname@example.org) who will notify you of advocacy opportunities throughout the legislative session.
- Donate to the LWVWA Ed Fund
An Ed Fund donation in our League’s name supports our local voter services work. Send your tax deductible contribution to “LWVWA-Ed Fund” to us at PO Box 4041, Bellingham, 98227, and we’ll forward it to the state League for you and make sure it gets credited to our account.
- Spread the Word
Stay engaged every day, and leverage your social media followers to get involved too! Follow the national League on Twitter and Facebook to find out how to make an impact. Check out our local Facebook page and share its content with your own local network.
- Bring a friend to a League event.
Next time you plan to attend a League function or work on a project, bring a friend along. We have had a number of new members join after attending a forum or helping with an event with one of our members.
- Join our Voter Registration Team
Contact Carole Hanaway (email@example.com) if you are interested in helping register people to vote. The League works year-round at schools and community events to prepare eligible voters. Check out VOTE411.org for more information.
- Contact your Representatives
Elected officials work for the people and need to hear from concerned citizens like you.
- Donate to our Defend Democracy Fund
Make a donation to the national league. Your support makes it possible for the League to take a stand in statehouses and courtrooms across the country.
MEET A MEMBER
By Jayne Freudenberger
How many people can say their job is their joy? Robert Clark is one of them. You might not know the name, but all of you have seen Robert filming at League meetings. It is part of his commitment to community understanding: Robert wants to make sure that people who have something to say get heard.
Robert grew up in LA, was drawn to the Northwest during family vacations, and graduated from the University of Oregon. There he was involved with the League during the 1988 presidential election, when he helped the League broadcast election results. He also was a “fly on the wall” filming community meetings and learning the ins and outs of government.
He moved on to Western Washington University in 2005 where he is currently the manager of Video Services, helping create videos, training students and troubleshooting software and hardware. He is committed to helping people understand the technology, and laughs about being in a coffee shop in Bellingham talking a friend in Africa through his challenges with some recording equipment. Although Robert’s family is in Reno, one senses Bellingham has become his real home because of the natural beauty and diversity of its people.
His passion comes through when he talks about his avocation: KMRE community radio station. There Robert is on hand to teach the technology and help community members record their ideas. The Spark Museum owns the radio license and Robert, besides keeping the technology working, lends a hand to the rest of the work, too, for example by recently helping paint the recording studio.
Robert believes all people deserve a voice. He has filmed an issue from one side then immediately filmed the other side’s point of view. He is impressed that the League holds non-partisan forums and debates. As he says, “it is impressive that sometimes you know views being presented are outside the comfort zone of League members, but you go out of your way to present both sides.”
Next time you see Robert filming a meeting, remember: it’s his day off so be sure to say thanks. He is truly a treasure for our League.
Photo: Robert Clark in the marketplace of Luxor, Egypt while on a three-week Egyptian adventure. Photo courtesy of Robert Clark.