The United States system of government is based on the premise that government is a creature of the people and is accountable to them. An open and accountable government is the cornerstone of a healthy, vibrant democracy. Since its founding, members of the League of Women Voters have been on the frontlines to promote governmental transparency at the local, state and national levels.
The League believes it is incredibly important for citizens to know more about their government. Since 1947, members of the LWV of Montgomery County have served as observers at many of the government boards, councils and commissions in Crawfordsville and the county.
The Observers listen and learn how these governmental boards function and what issues they handle. The League seeks to assist its members and the public to become better educated about local issues. The Observers are the eyes and ears of the League — a pipeline to what is being thought, said, and done in local government.
The LWV’s Observer Corps is a benefit not only for its members but also for the citizens as large, as well as for the governmental bodies observed. Often, the League observer is the only member of the public present at board meetings; and by that presence, the board members know that citizens are interested and do care.
Observers note whether the open door policy is being followed. Is there an agenda and are minutes kept? Which board members are present and absent at each meeting? Is the media present and are reports made to the public? Are members of the public present? If so, are they given an opportunity to speak? Is there adequate seating for all who attend, and can the procedings be heard by everyone? Is voting conducted properly?
The League is presently observing eighteen local boards. At the city level, the LWV observes the Crawfordsville City County, Aviation Commission, Bicycle and Pedestrian Council, Historic Preservation Commission, Human Rights Commission, Parks and Recreation Board, Plan Commission, Public Works and Safety Board and Zoning Appeals Board.
City and county boards observed include E-911 and Economic and Development Authority. At the county level, the League members regularly observe the Health Board and Redevelopment Commission. The Union Township Board is observed as well as the Regional Housing Authority.
League members also observe the Crawfordsville School Board, North Montgomery School Board as well the Crawfordsville District Public Library Board.
League observers include: Bud Arnold, Patience Barnes, Nancy Bennett, James Cherry, Melissa Dees, Bill Fell, Helen Hudson, Marc Hudson, Vicke Hudson-Swisher, Margaret McCafferty, Warren Rosenberg and Virginia Servies. Some observe more than one board.
In addition, League members now serve as elected or appointed members on one or more of 37 county, city, township, town, library and school boards, commissions and councils. Many of these board members began as observers.
The League of Women Voters, a non-partisan, multi-issue political organization, encourages informed and active participation in government, works to increase public understanding of major policy issues and influences public policy through education and advocacy. All men and women are invited to join the LWV where hands-on work to safeguard democracy leads to civic improvement. For information about the League, visit the website www.lwvmontco.org or send message P.O. Box 101 Crawfordsville, 47933 or firstname.lastname@example.org.