The Voter, February 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
February 9, 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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Living on the Brink
 Women's Economic Security 

Saturday, February 21, 2015
9:30 AM Doors Open
10:00 AM - 12:00 Noon
Bellingham Technical College
Settlemyer Hall
Campus Center Building

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Women's Economic Security - Consensus Discussion 
March 21, 2015
Doors open at 9:30 AM
Program 10:00 AM - 12:00 Noon
Belingham Public Library


Other Community Events

Green Drinks
Learn about Whatcom County's Comprehensive Plan

How does the update to the comprehensive plan impact you and your community?

February 4, 2015
5:00 - 7:00 PM
Sustainable Living Center
RE Sources
2309 Meridian
Bellingham, WA 98225

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Engaged Citizens Book Group
This drop-in book discussion meets on the 3rd Wednesday of each month at Village Books.  

February 18, 2015
12:00 Noon - 1:30 PM

Village Books
Readings Gallery

February book:  Whose Freedom: The Battle over America's Most Important Idea, by George Lakoff 
Future books for discussion are listed the Village Books website.


Mental Health Court Comes to Bellingham

Mental Health Court bridges the gap between the criminal justice system and the health care system to treat mentally ill offenders in a more efficient, effective and just manner. 

For the past year, city and county officials have been developing this program, and the first session in Bellingham's Municipal Court was held on January 27th. 

The league encouraged our elected officials to develop this program last year. It is one of the improvements in mental health care made possible with funds from the county-wide mental health tax approved in 2009.  

Read more ....  

Our New Members 

 We welcome Mary Patterson and Janet Willing as new members of the League and welcome back  Joan Airoldi.

A huge thanks to all our members who have invited a friend to one of our meetings this year. This is the most effective way to introduce others to the benefits of belonging to the League and to increase our membership.  You, our current members, are our best ambassadors for the League.  

Thank you to our Community Supporters 

Our League is pleased to have received funds for the printing and distribution of our Report on Women's Economic Security.  We are grateful for grants from
  • The Opportunity Council
  • LWV of Washington Civic Education Fund
  • Whatcom Community Foundation

Thanks to our League Volunteers!

Tanya Baumgart, Carole Slesnick, Annette Holcomb and Elizabeth Dean have been working with Margaret Woll to update information about our Elected Officials for They Represent You, our Directory of Government Officials.

The brochure will once again be printed through the generosity of The Print Stop owned by Craig Hersman.  

Program Planning Meeting Photos


 February 2015 


February program highlights
Women's Economic Security in Whatcom County


Speakers will offer perspectives on the economic challenges Whatcom County women face and how the community is responding.

February 21, 2015

Settlemyer Hall
Campus Center Building
Bellingham Technical College

Driving Directions & Free Parking

Doors open at 9:30
Program: 10:00 AM - Noon

Panel Participants:
  • Sheri Emerson, Associate Director Opportunity Council
  • Kirsten Barron, Attorney, Barron Smith Daugert, PLLC Attorneys at Law
  • Kerri Holferty, Educational Services, Whatcom Community College
  • Sue Sharpe, Executive Director, Chuckanut Health Foundation & Coordinating Council Member, Community Health Improvement Plan Initiative
 The issue of poverty and inequality in America, and the importance of women's role in the economy are part of our current national dialogue. The Bellingham/Whatcom County League of Women Voters recently completed an in-depth study of women’s economic security in Whatcom County. The results of the study, and implications for our community, will be the focus of the League’s program on February 21st. 
  • 16.6 percent of Whatcom County’s resident population live below the poverty level. This is higher than the poverty level in 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 live below the poverty level.
  • More than 11,000 children under 18 years of age are eligible for the reduced or free lunch program.
  • Of families living at or below the poverty level with a female head of household who live below the poverty level, 35.4 percent worked full or part time.
  • The food bank feeds 2300 families across Whatcom County every single week.
The program will address findings from our study: ways women seeking economic security face multiple complex, interconnected challenges; agencies and programs that provide resources to support individuals to gain economic security; and persistent issues regarding women’s economic security that Whatcom County needs to continue to address.  

Representatives from over a dozen agencies in the community will staff tables to provide information about services and programs in Whatcom County for individuals striving to become more economically secure. 
Members, Cookies are Requested!   
If your last name starts with Q-Z please bring cookies or bread for the coffee hour at our February 21st meeting. 

League Members Work on Hot Topics

Our January program planning potluck/meeting was well attended, and members had a lively discussion about the topics that they believe are important for future educational and advocacy work by the state and local League.  To stimulate our thinking, Dr. Dana Jack, Professor at Fairhaven College, WWU, gave a superb presentation on women and depression titled, “Women’s Silencing the Self: Dangers and Possibilities.”

Missed this program?  Read Dr. Jack's handout and powerpoint here: 

Hot Topic Issues:
The issues that members determined to be most critical for our state were tax reform, money in elections, racial inequality (as manifested by agricultura
l worker policies and our law enforcement practice), voter participation, and voting rights.  

Members thought the high priority issues for our local league were climate change, environmental justice, domestic fair trade and civic education in our high schools. Of course there were many other important issues that our members thought the League should continue to address, and your board of directors will use this input to shape our program and agenda for the next year. 

What are the next steps?  
Your local league board will submit our recommendations to the LWVWA Board and they will examine these along with recommendations from other local leagues.  At the LWVWA bienniel convention, June 12-14, 2015, delegates will adopt the state program for the next two years.

A New Local Study? 
Members may still recommend an in-depth study on a local issue.  To do so, please send a brief description of the issue by March 15th, 2015.  Email us at: 
 Describe the scope and focus you suggest for a League study on this issue.  The work would be done over a one or two-year period if approved by our members at our annual meeting. 


LWV Celebrates 95th Birthday on February 14, 2015

For 95 years the League of Women Voters has been empowering voters. As many of you know, the League was born out of the Women's Suffrage movement, but did you realize that suffragette, Carrie Chapman Catt founded the League of Women Voters 6 months before the 19th Amendment was finally passed?

She was thinking ahead, and knew that women would want to be knowledgeable about the issues and the candidates when they got right to vote.  Ninety-five years later, the League continues their mission even though the issues have changed a lot since 1920.  We study and learn about important issues, provide non-partisan information to the public, get involved in our communites and advocate for our principles.  

Thank you for being part of this movement and let's keep it strong to celebrate the next milestone!



Local Study - An Incredible Experience 

One year ago, at our January, 2014 program planning meeting Kay Ingram proposed that we do a study on Women’s Economic Security in Whatcom County. It sounded like a great idea and received overwhelming support from our membership. At the annual meeting in May 2014, we voted to move forward with this project. Little did many of us know  what would be involved.  

Since May, 2014 under the able leadership of Kay Ingram, 17 members of the League’s study committee researched the topic, and still others have helped edit and review the written report. The group conducted an in-depth investigation into the services to help women in Whatcom County become economically secure. The group examined what is working, what is not working and what simply does not exist.

This has been an incredible experience for all involved in the project. Beyond the pleasure provided from a satisfying intellectual exercise, the study participants have really enjoyed working together, thinking about women in our community, and considering how we can best strengthen Whatcom County. The study participants know each other in new ways, have discovered each other’s strengths and found pleasure in the support and camaraderie that the experience provided.

The study process is at the core of all of the League’s positions. The League conducts studies in order to be better informed about issues, to make sure that our positions represent the most current data on a topic and to then advocate for policies that are supported by that information.

It is with great pride that we will be presenting our Report on Women’s Economic Security in Whatcom County to the membership, to our elected officials and interested members of the community. Watch for your copy of the report in the mail. We hope that you will find this document to be interesting and informative

We look forward to seeing you at the February 21st meeting described above. Plan to also participate in the meeting on March 21st when we will engage in the formalized consensus discussion about key issues raised in the study.  From our membership consensus on the issues, we will be able to enhance our local positions for advocacy and community education about women’s economic security.

At our annual meeting this spring, we will again discuss and vote about the educational programs for the coming year. We urge you to consider whether there is a topic that merits another study and what role, if any, you might want to play in that process. 

We encourage you to send study suggestions to us by March 15th so that they can be shared with all our members prior to the annual meeting. 
 Jill Bernstein and Annette Holcomb, Co-Presidents


Introducing Linda Melland

Each month The Voter will bring you a profile of a new League member. This is another installment in that series.

Linda Melland is a native of Whatcom County, but lived in Hawaii, New Mexico and Colorado as she was growing up and then settled in Seattle, WA where she graduated from the UW and then earned her MA in Educational Leadership while teaching in Seattle.

Linda taught elementary school for 10 years and then worked as a school administrator for another 15 years including serving as principal in the school districts of Nooksack Valley, Snohomish, and finally Ferndale. During these years she has also filled the roles of mother, grandmother, aunt and daughter — assisting various members of her extended family.  

After retiring in 2014, Linda has sought ways to connect in the community and to invest her time in some way to make the world a better place for her children and grandchildren. Our election forums and advocacy work against the coal port development at Cherry Point attracted her to the League. 

Linda has attended several events this year and participated in our continuing-the-conversation meetings where she was impressed with Leaguers depth of knowledge about current issues.  She said that she was intrigued by our rigorous program selection process and the care that we take to select issues where the League’s perspectives will really make a difference

She appreciates that the League aims to be inclusive of many viewpoints and explores how best to address the challenges that we face.  She is interested in how we might expand our outreach and involvement to include a broad range of political ideas — from the conservative to the more progressive. 

Linda looks forward to attending events and learning more about the League while considering how she might be involved after her schedule frees up.  Having just retired, there are many projects and delights calling for her attention. One such delight is a spring trip to Adelaide, Australia to visit her daughter, son-in-law and 4 grandchildren who make their home there.
     Join us in welcoming Linda Melland to the League.

Whatcom Conservation District Election
The Whatcom Conservation District provides a tremendous service to our farmers, gardeners and anyone interested in conserving the land and water of the county. An election for one position on the WCD Board of Supervisors takes place on March 10th.
Two candidates have filed for the elected WCD Supervisor position: 
Larry Helm
Joy Monjure
  • Learn about WA State Conservation Districts and the election of their governing boards in the LWVWA's Report here. 
  • Our members, Elsie Heinrick and Lynn Rein,  published an Op Ed about the WCD a few years ago.  Read more here.
Voting in the WCD Supervisor election

Poll-site voting will take place on March 10, 2015 from 9am to 6pm at the WCD Office, 6975 Hannegan Road, Lynden, WA.

 Absentee Ballots:  All registered voters in Whatcom County are eligible to vote, but they must request an absentee ballot to have one sent to them.
Voters may request an absentee ballot from the 
WCD website. 

The d
eadline to request your ballot is February 9,2015, so act quickly to cast your vote by absentee.
The VOTER,  February 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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