A Voice for Citizens, a Force for Change
e-bulletin
November | 2021
Message from the Steering Committee
A Message From This Month's Chair,
Kathy Campbell
By the time you read this, the Amherst municipal elections will be history. But I want to take this opportunity for a shout-out to the many members who stepped forward in September and October to work on all the moving parts of our Voter Engagement effort.

Prime among these are the Election Guide editor, Bonnie Isman, and Cynthia Brubaker, who volunteered to head up everything else in the portfolio we call Voter Engagement, including voter registration/get-out-the-vote and arranging our candidate forums.

In a town where almost everyone is registered to vote, voter registration is mostly about distributing information. On National Voter Education Day in late September, Ann Kieser, Trish Farrington, and Susan Millinger registered voters outside the Jones Library and answered questions concerning voting and the upcoming election. We also took advantage of the PVTA offer to sponsor generic "Register and Vote” PSAs on monitors in area buses. And our banner spanned South Pleasant Street the week before the election.

Bonnie and Cynthia wrote many letters and e-mails to candidates soliciting their participation in both the Election Guide and our candidate forums. In the end, all but two of the 37 candidates responded for the Election Guide. Their responses were downloaded from the web site, and the proofs from the Gazette were reviewed by a team comprised of Bonnie, Cynthia, Kathy Campbell, Janice Ratner, and Joan Rabin. The Guide was published on our web site in time for early voters, and appeared in print in the October 29 edition of the Amherst Bulletin.

Also, in the end, we held candidate forums for all offices on the ballot, including the uncontested races for the Library Board of Trustees and for Town Council Districts 1, 2 and 5. All of the candidates participated except for two Library Trustee candidates who had prior commitments. Moderators were Jessica Ryan, Susan Millinger, Nancy Eddy and Phyllis Lehrer. We had two timekeepers, Joan Rabin and Adele Gladstone-Gilbert, for every forum, although happily we never needed to use the back-up “alternate timekeeper.” Bonnie Isman,  Adrienne Terrizzi and Marcie Sclove served as question sorters. All five were Zoom-hosted by Kathy Campbell, who also edited the resulting recordings for posting on Amherst Media. 

This is how the League works together at its best. But if all those names look familiar there’s a reason. We are relying on, and burning out, a handful of active members. We need more than your dues! Please find a place where you can contribute a bit of your time. It doesn’t have to be a major commitment, such as volunteering to join the board or be an off-board coordinator (although that would be nice!) You could join one of our standing committees. We’re actively working for racial justice in Amherst, single-payer health care, climate action and local sustainability initiatives, and affordable housing. Internally we always need help with communications, including the e-bulletin, traditional publicity and the newer social media, as well as things like membership database maintenance. 

And finally, with the charter review due in two years, it is time to reactivate our local government committee so that the League will be ready to participate in that important process. But that is something that won’t happen unless YOU make it happen.

~ Kathy Campbell
News from our Committees
VOTER ENGAGEMENT

Good News!  The VOTES Act has passed!
The votes act has passed the Mass. Senate and will be coming up for a vote in the Mass. House of Representatives soon. This much needed legislation will make permanent the opportunity to vote by mail and to vote early in person, both very popular reforms that were instituted temporarily during the height of the COVID pandemic. It also modernizes voting practices in Massachusetts by allowing voter registration anytime, including on Election Day, which is currently the practice in 20 states nationwide. 

Same Day Voter Registration is especially important to encourage voting by the 1,000s of renters and students in Amherst. Currently, there is a 20 day black out period before Election Day when voters may NOT register or update their addresses, and this is a big problem for folks who have just moved to town or who have to change rental housing year to year.  The Town Census may not find previously registered voters who have moved, or the Census forms may be mislaid by a busy family with too many chores and too little time. If these forms do not make it back to the Town Clerk, voters will be switched to ‘inactive’ – another barrier to voting. 

State Representative Mindy Domb is a big supporter of the VOTES Act, but she needs your help to convince her colleagues that Same Day Voter Registration is necessary to engage all our residents, especially young people and renters,  in voting.  Please take a few minutes to send Rep. Domb an email at mindy.domb@mahouse.gov  and tell her you support Same Day Voter Registration in the VOTES Act (H.805). The more emails she gets, the more proof she has to support the VOTES Act!

KUDOS to the team that pulled together the Candidate Forums for viewing online.  According to the Amherst Media website, the Forum for At Large Town Councilors has been viewed 270 times, and the School Committee Forum has been viewed 137 times.  Posting these programs online has really expanded the League’s reach to hundreds of residents, despite the current health crisis.  

~ Bonnie Isman
The Voter Engagement Committee (formerly Voters Service) made a contribution to the LWVA in honor of our League member Kathy Campbell. Kathy worked tirelessly to present our 5 Candidate Forums as webinars during this past election cycle, plus she has done many hours of work behind the scenes for the Election Guide, the How to Run for Local Office webinar, and many other LWVA webinars and zoom events. We are grateful for her technical know-how as well as her very generous volunteer time to our League. 

Thank you from us all, Kathy!

~ submitted by Cynthia Brubaker
RACIAL JUSTICE COMMITTEE
Greetings from the Racial Justice Committee

We are working on a series of monthly Brown Bag discussions for our LWVA
members and the public on subjects relevant to racial equity in Amherst.  

At our first Brown Bag on July 10, Jennifer Moyston spoke on “Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion in Town Government.”  The next Brown Bag was on Oct. 23, where we described “The League’s Racial Justice Committee and Town Initiatives for Racial Justice & Equity."  

On December 4, we have invited members of the Community Safety Working Group to share their experiences and their vision for the future of racial justice in Amherst. Please join us on Dec. 4, 1:00 – 3:00 PM. 

In January, we will hear from Barbara Pearson and the Healthcare Committee, on “Health Care Reform and Social Justice.” (See her write-up in the October eBulletin.)  The Brown Bag in February will feature Doreen Cunningham, ARPS  Assistant Superintendent for Diversity, Equity, and Human Resources. If you have suggestions for future Brown Bag programs, contact Andrea Battle or Rebecca Fricke.   
     
Please save the dates and join the discussions!  

~ Martha Hanner & Andrea Battle
SUSTAINABILITY AND CLIMATE ACTION COMMITTEE
Legislation on Renewable Energy to Follow
Offshore Wind

One of the four LWVMA priority bills lobbied for on Day on the Hill was H.3302, An Act to promote offshore wind energy and renewables. The sponsor of the bill is Rep. Dylan Fernandes. The League has high hopes for the passage of this bill. To learn more about Offshore Wind and its potential as a major resource as society transitions off fossil fuel, see the recent webinar “Offshore Wind: Game Changer for NetZero”
Featured guest speaker is Susannah Hatch, the Regional Lead for New England for Offshore Wind, which is a growing and broad-based regional coalition that aims to drive deeper regional collaboration and expanded commitments to responsibly developed offshore wind. LWVMA has recently joined this coalition.
This webinar is in the LWVMA Climate and Energy Solutions Series, produced by the LWVMA Environmental Action and Advocacy Committee"
Geothermal Energy

“The Future of Heat” was another recent (October 19) webinar on an alternative to fossil fuels. Sponsored by Mothers Out Front, the LWVMA was a cosponsor. This webinar does not appear to be available online, at least at present. However, an earlier LWVMA webinar featuring Sen Cynthia Creem, lead sponsor of the Future of Heat bill, is available here: https://lwvma.org/lwvma-2017-climate-and-energy-solutions-series/ 

For a helpful summary of the content of H.3298/S.2148, see https://lwvma.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/09/Bill-Summary-H.3298-S.2148-1.pdf. Sen. Creem and Rep. Lori Ehrlich and Sen Creem are sponsors.

~ Susan Millinger
MEMBERSHIP
IN MEMORIUM 

The Steering Committee regrets to report the recent death of Amherst League member Jane Harrington. We send our most sincere sympathy to her family and friends. We are grateful for her many contributions to the League and to the community. Jane was a member of the Book Group and hosted meetings in her home. 

~ Phyllis Lehrer
LWVMA News
Recent Events
The League Leader Event

The annual League Leader event (alas, for the second year not a lunch) on Saturday, November 7, opened with a poetry reading by Alondra Bobadilla. In January 2020, Alondra was named Boston’s first-ever Youth Poet Laureate. Alondra uses her writing to highlight social issues that impact her and her community. She is 18-years old and a student at UMass Boston. The poem, which focused on the importance of voting, was well worth hearing. So too was the keynote address by Beth Chandler, President and CEO of YW Boston since 2018. Beth joined YW Boston in November 2012, with more than 20 years of experience in both the corporate and nonprofit sectors.

Both poem and comments were recorded, and will soon be available: consult LWVMA.org. The December ebulletin will contain the link.
Day on the Hill

The Legislative Action Committee (LAC)’s lobby event, Day on the Hill, postponed from October 27 to November 3, included a keynote address by Speaker of the House Ronald Mariano. It was reinforcing to hear the Speaker complimenting the League. He was, by the nature of his position, careful in what he said about the LAC’s four priority bills, but openly supportive at least of the offshore wind bill (H.3302/S.2155), which offers hopes of new jobs for a new technology as well a renewable energy. 

A panel of four LAC specialists: Nancy Brumback (Voting), Karen Mazza (Education), Valentina Pasquantonio (Healthcare) and Launa Zimmaro (Climate Change) provided valuable information in a very brief period. Their comments were intended to help with the main task of the day, lobbying our legislators. But they will also be useful for those of us wishing to lobby for these later. A recording will be available of the panel presentation; the link will be in the next ebulletin.

And last but not least were the regionally organized breakout sessions to which legislators and their aides were invited to hear from their constituents. Staff represented Sen. Comerford and Rep. Natalie Blais and Rep. Paul Mark. Rep. Mindy Domb was the only legislator to attend the (one) session for Western Massachusetts. Rep. Domb was very helpful in providing perspective on the Speaker’s comments as well as in providing additional information about bills.

Amherst is so lucky to have her represent the town!
LWVUS News
VOTING RIGHTS: THE FOCUS
From October Recap (October 29):

Senate Fails to Move Forward on Freedom to Vote Act, Introduces John Lewis VRAA
In a 51 – 49 vote, the US Senate failed to move forward on the Freedom to Vote Act. In response, LWVUS CEO Virginia Kase Solomón stated, “This legislation will provide equal access to voting for all Americans, stop partisan gerrymandering, and limit the influence of dark money so that billionaires can’t buy elections. We need federal legislation to protect voting rights before the next election cycle.”  

Meanwhile, the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act (VRAA) was introduced in the Senate. This bill would fully restore the Voting Rights Act and put an end to discriminatory voting policies. 

From League Update (Nov 4):
“This week our Senate failed to move the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act (VRAA) forward. By opting not to even debate the VRAA, senators are failing their duties as elected officials to protect, promote, and preserve our democracy, therefore allowing unbridled attacks on our voting rights to continue. The Senate must relinquish its allegiance to the Jim Crow filibuster and reform Senate rules to pass the VRAA.“
Read the full League statement here.

EVENT

NO MORE EXCUSES: VOTING RIGHTS NOW!
 Nov. 17th 10a.m. ET

Activists will make their voices heard for voting rights at the White House. Watch on the live stream or join in person. Click below for info:
STATEHOOD FOR D.C.

From League Update (Oct 21) 
The LWV of the District of Columbia, in partnership with ACLU DC and DC Vote, delivered nearly 37,000 signatures from Americans across the country who believe and understand that DC deserves statehood now. Watch the live stream here. The League has supported DC statehood for over 80 years, and we continue to support it with total commitment today. Please urge your senators to support the Washington DC Admission Act
FIRST CALL FOR CONVENTION

We have published the first call for our 55th Annual Convention to be held June 23–26, 2022. We are going hybrid this year, with opportunities to participate both in person in Denver, CO, or online from anywhere. More information and guidance on what attendees can expect and how to prepare will be available over the coming weeks.
FORWARD THIS MESSAGE!

This monthly message is for anyone interested in the League, not just members. If you know someone who might be interested, forward this message and invite them to subscribe themselves, using the link below.
e-BULLETIN STAFF AND CONTRIBUTORS IN NOVEMBER
The Editor of the LWVAmherst e-Bulletin, Jessica Ryan can be contacted here. The Associate Editors are Trish Farrington and Susan Millinger; Assistant Editors are Janice Ratner, Phyllis Lehrer, and Kay Fite who checks the links. Contributors to this month's e-Bulletin include LWVA members Andrea Battle, Cynthia Brubaker, Kathy Cambpell, Martha Hanner, Bonnie Isman, and Susan Millinger. Material on LWVMA and LWVUS comes from the website lwvma.org and the newsletter League Update, respectively, selected by Susan Millinger.