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League of Women Voters turns 90

The League of Women Voters of Clallam County's rich history spans 40-plus years of progress and decision-making.

"It remains progressive to this day and will stay that way," said Penney Van Vleet, Clallam League president.

Established in 1967, one year later the Clallam League officially became recognized as one of 21 groups in Washington.

The League of Women Voters is a volunteer, member-directed organization at local, state and national levels that is nonpartisan and neutral to political parties or candidates.

Several achievements are marked this month and year for the League and for women.
  • 100th year of amending Washington state's Constitution, allowing women to vote
  • 90th anniversary of passing the 19th Amendment allowing women to vote nationally
  • 90th anniversary of the League of Women Voters
  • March is Women's History Month
Carrol Hull, sustainability chairwoman for the League, said she joined the local group two years ago because she felt it was the best place to make a difference.

"Citizenship participation is so essential in our democracy," she said.

Taking a stand

The lack of partisanship doesn't mean the League doesn't take action.

The League encourages informed, active participation in government and works to increase understanding of major public policy issues through education and advocacy.

Van Vleet recently represented the League at a Sequim City Council meeting about its positive stance on impact and mitigation fees.

The state's League consensus on the topic was positive, so Clallam's League spoke in favor of it.

"It's a passion that's tempered," Van Vleet said.

"We don't just go out and speak our minds."

Creating awareness

The League sponsors candidate forums for voters without endorsing candidates.

"I've been in the lobby after a candidates' forum, and people are thankful," Van Vleet said.

"It's a lot more personal than what you read in the newspaper or voter's guide.

The League also provides a free directory of elected officials and speakers who can present information about issues. Forum topics have covered Death with Dignity and health care reform - the popular Mad as Hell Doctors event.

Observer Corps

League members - men can join, too, as of 1974 - are visible at government meetings. As part of the Observer Corps, they record and report on local happenings to keep League members updated.

They watch city councils, the hospital board, school boards and more.

"I learned more about government just by going to meetings than I did in high school and college," Van Vleet said.

Sue Erzen, the Observer Corps chairwoman, can be reached at 681-4916 or s.erzen6@olypen.com.

The League of Women Voters of Clallam County has 89 members split between

Sequim and Port Angeles.

Its goal is to recruit and have more than 150 members and a satellite group in Forks.

Membership costs $50 for an individual, $75 per family.

The League operates on a budget of $3,000-$4,000 annually for fliers, events and publicity.

Upcoming events include the Reader's Theatre Plus play "Shattered Ceilings;" an Earth Day event on Saturday, April 17, at the Sequim Boys & Girls Club; and the annual meeting on May 19.

Learn more about the League of Women Voters of Clallam County at www.olympus.net/community/lwvcla.

League of Women Voters of Clallam County
  • Nonpartisan
  • Takes action on governmental issues after careful study and consensus
  • Encourages informed and active participation in government
  • Works to increase understanding of major public policy issues through education and advocacy
www.LWVCLA.org

Reach Matthew Nash at mnash@sequimgazette.com.





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