Now is always a good time to join the League of Women Voters. If you are like me, you’ve waited, maybe because of young kids, a career, school, a bevy of commitments to your church or other community organization. I want to say that after two years of involvement, it’s worth the small amount of time to participate.
The League introduced itself to me with one of the many quiet but critical services they provide to our community. They sponsored a candidate forum. I attended hoping to speak to Rep. Tim Brown. Little did I know how much the League of Women Voter offered, both to our town, but to those struggling to have faith in the system.
“Bipartisan action is essential to public trust,” Yuval Levin of the American Enterprise Institute, asserted in the New York Times this month. David Brooks called for our political parties focus on “the unsexy work at the local level.” The League does all of this. They are non-partisan, committed to public trust in our democracy, and work at the local level.
“I wanted to be in the room where it happens and the League is where it happens,” said member Sheridan Hadley. All members are asked to be part of the Observer Corp. They choose a committee or council of interest and attend meetings, reporting on it to fellow members at our annual meeting. If that’s all the time you have, it’s enough.
Members with more free time serve on one of the many committees of our local League chapter: Voter Services, Economic Health, Land Use, Local Government, Education, Climate, and Healthcare. They sit in on council meetings and connect with experts in our community. Members see how our mayor engages consultants and works across party lines. They attest to what functions or not. Hadley is one of many on the Economic Health Committee. Members learning about our local policies on housing, evictions, childcare, corporate incentives, and small business creation.
Since its inception, the League of Women Voters has been non-partisan. It operates true to the mandate that no chapter supports any candidate or party. It’s goal is to increase participation in democracy, which board member Joyce Burnett cited when asked why she participates.
“I am a member because democracy only works if citizens are involved,” Burnett said. Though it has Women in its title, membership is for anyone who wants our democracy to work regardles of race, sex, gender, ability, culture, religion, and at present, our local chapter is excited to reach out with Spanish-language publications to reach more of our community.
“I love that the league promotes civic engagement, which is key to resolving almost every issue we face from the environment to public health to disinformation. Also, climate activism is my main form of political engagement (besides voting, of course), and I appreciate the League’s stances on carbon pricing and climate change. It has been a great vehicle to connect with people in the community on this issue,” said John Smilie, a Climate Committee member.
League committees take on studies of local issues, consult with experts and officials, and use consensus or concurrence- agreement and consistency — to arrive on positions. Only then does the League take action, calling on elected officials for policy changes.
If you ever wonder what local candidates stand for, the League provides directories of who serves in what government role, how to contact them, and when meetings are held. The Government Directory includes local, state, and federal officials information as well as all information on our local boards. We also publish FOCUS on Montgomery County, which contains history, government and public resource information.
If you feel uninformed or worried about democracy, start local. Find out more at the League of Women Voters website https://www.lwvmontcoin.org/. Attend or tune into a
“Learn with League” event on our Facebook page. Or join.
Dawn Bonebreak joined “because it is bi-partisan and it keeps me informed of things that are happening locally, that I might not know about otherwise.” She was also interested in how the League helps register voters.
If you are looking to connect with leaders of all kinds in the county, city, state and nation, the League, Gail Pebworth, who joined in 1963, testifies to the value of League friendships.
“Over the decades, I have learned so much about how local, state and national governments work. I have served several terms on the LWV of Indiana State Board — both when I was young and then after I retired. Friendships with Leaguers from throughout Indiana and also the USA (with whom I worked on some national committees) have been a tremendous asset.”
The League of Women Voters, a non-partisan, multi-issue 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, visit the website www.lwvmontcoin.org or the League of Women Voters of Montgomery County, IN Facebook page.
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