By BARB ANDERSON
Local guest columnist
As a young girl my father would often tell me I had three responsibilities as a woman in America: Raise a strong family, work hard, and VOTE. He was 100 percent disabled from World War II and often said he laid down his life so America could have the freedom to be strong, to select its own leadership, and to participate in its government.
A lot of that has been lost in this country and that is a major problem. It is time to take our community, our state, and our country back. The majority no longer votes, if a community gets more than 50 percent of the vote, everybody celebrates. In other countries people die for the right to do what we now so cavalierly throw away.
After President Obama’s second election a young woman, Jessica Meyer, approached me about the League of Women Voters. She asked did I know anything about it and why wasn’t there one here? I explained to her that at one time we had one of the strongest Leagues in the state. I remember as a young woman the same age of Jessica, 25, working at Community Action as a planner and hearing about some women in our community who were making a real difference. The League of Women Voters.
Barbara Williams, Joan Crooks, Melba Doggett ... it was a who’s who in influential women in our community, and it commanded change. The League of Women Voters is alive again in this region thanks to Jessica and her diligent efforts. We are known as the South Central Indiana League of Women Voters and we will be two years old in August. The world is different today than it was then, we have an elected school board (thanks to the League led by Ms. Doggett on this issue); we have social services that did not exist until the women in the League assisted in organizing those entities after determining the need for them. The Center for Lay Ministries was one such organization led by Joan Crooks and many others. It was amazing to watch these women work their magic. I always referred to Barbara Williams as the “velvet glove” because she knew her stuff and she always did her homework. She then delivered a finished product to the League, as did her compatriots.
One of the issues most discussed was the Township Trustees office and local government. Fast forward to 2014 and the League is again revisiting the issue on a statewide level. The position the League of Women Voters of Indiana has is outdated so we will examine our current position and move forward with new recommendations. The League is known for being a watchdog.
In addition, the most important role the League of Women Voters has is to get the citizenry involved in registering and then voting for elected officials. We take that charge seriously. As an active League now, we are united with our State League. Teresa Perkins is our president, Nicole Yates is our vice president, Vicki Moore is our secretary, and Shi-loh Harris is the treasurer. I serve as the membership chair and sit on the board as the local liaison in Indianapolis.
The State League has priorities and those can be found on the League of Women Voters of Indiana’s website, our local league has a Facebook page (South Central Indiana League of Women Voters) that offers our positions as well as the State League’s position, we are connected closely to the national league.
The voices of the men and women who are members of the League are bi-partisan in nature and locally we strive to do just that, remain objective. We don’t presume to tell anyone how to vote we just want them to vote. This community, this country won’t change until we as a community of united citizens begin to take the power of our vote seriously.
We have much to do. We will do it in partnership with our sister leagues across the state and country and we will plan it with our local citizens, from the ground up. The League will not only assist in registering people but in getting people to the polls, in educating voters as to who is running and what their platforms are, and in keeping them engaged in community dialogues.
During the past two years we have hosted two candidates forums, hosted the senatorial debates between Donnelly and Mourdock, held a “getting to know your elected officials forum” and most recently planned a day with Leadership Southern Indiana on educating future leaders on the realities of local government. We have done several other presentations and participated in the last two elections by offering rides and registering voters.
Join us, leave a message on our Facebook page or on the News and Tribune website for this column. Help us change the way we look as a community. Help us build a stronger more effective local government by having a more informed and educated electorate. The League needs you, local government needs you, and more importantly the future of this community needs you.
— Barb Anderson, Jeffersonville, is executive director of Haven House Services Inc. Reach her by email at firstname.lastname@example.org