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Amherst League of Women Voters

A Voice for Citizens, a Force for Change


September 21, 2018
In This Issue:
UPCOMING EVENTS

  
September 25,  4-6 p.m., National Voter Registration Day. LWVAmherst table in the Jones Library Atrium.
September 27, 7 p.m., Opening Meeting at Amherst Woman's Club, 35 Triangle St. Members and their guests only.
October 4, LWVAmherst's Girls' Leadership Day. See below.
October 4, Voter Registration activity at ARHS inspired and assisted by LWVAmherst. See below.
October 5, 1-2:30 p.m., Steering Committee Meeting, 81 Stagecoach Rd. All members are welcome to attend, but please contact host.
October 15, 3 p.m., Book Discussion of Tyrant Shakespeare on Politics by Stephen Greenblatt ,at Applewood.
October 23, 6-9 p.m., Fall Candidate Forum for Town Council, Amherst Regional Middle School Auditorium.
November 1, starting at 6:45 p.m., Forum on Affordable Housing cosponsored with Amherst Municipal Affordable Housing Trust. Place TBA. More info in October e-bulletin.
To subscribe to the e-bulletin, visit lwvamherst.org, click on the blue tab "Sign up for Email Updates" and fill out the brief form found there.
Note: a print bulletin will no longer be published. If you have friends who would prefer a paper copy of the e-bulletin, please contact a member of the Steering Committee.



A Message from the LWVA Steering Committee

This Fall brings many activities for the League. Our Voter Service Committee will be very busy registering voters at the Jones Library on National Voter Registration Day, September 25. You may have noticed them at the Amherst Block Party. You should find them wearing new LVW buttons! Also, teachers at Amherst High School will be preparing seniors to register to vote on October 4. The steering committee wants to thank Adrienne Terrizzi, Nancy DiMattio, Rebecca Fricke, Cynthia Brubaker, and the Voter Service Committee for all their hard work to provide these services.

Another exciting event will be a girl's leadership project called 1-2-3 Girls Lead. It will be held October 4th at the Unitarian Universalist Society of Amherst. Girls will gain confidence, learn skills and practice techniques which are important for young leaders. Thank you to the coordinators, Rebecca Fricke and Cynthia Brubaker.

We are looking forward to seeing you on Thursday, September 27 at the Amherst Woman's Club for our opening meeting on Ranked Choice Voting. This should be a very informative meeting.
 
The membership chair would like to remind everyone that membership renewal notices have been mailed. Renewal and activity forms and dues may be brought to opening meeting
 
We will be holding our 3rd Candidates Forum on October 23 at the Amherst Middle School Auditorium. Nancy DiMattio has ordered a handsome LWV banner for this event. The SC would like to thank Becky Shannon for moderating the at-large forum on August 29th, and to thank especially Kathy Campbell for all of her efforts throughout the summer & fall, arranging these forums so voters can be better informed.
 
There are many opportunities for action described in this e-bulletin. We encourage you to find an action that interests you and get involved, both to benefit others and to help the Amherst League carry out its mission. 
 
-Deanna Pearlstein   
In Memoriam.
 
The Steering Committee regrets to report the recent death of Amherst League member John Fox. We send our most sincere sympathy to his family and friends. We are grateful for his many contributions to the League and to the community. 


Opening Meeting: Thursday, September 27        
         
Come and learn more about Ranked Choice Voting  (RCV, also called Instant Runoff) at our opening meeting. We'll be meeting at 7 p.m. at the Amherst Woman's Club at 35 Triangle St. Unlike our usual meetings, which begin with refreshments, we'll go right into the meeting at 7, since our refreshments this evening will be the cookies we are using to see how ranked choice voting works. (We will use a ranked ballot to elect our favorite cookie from among five delicious choices.)

The meeting is open to members and their guests. New members and returning members can turn in their forms and pay their dues (by check) to the treasurer at the end of the meeting. Membership forms will be available for guests who would like to join the Amherst League.

After a brief business meeting led by Adrienne Terrizzi, our presenter, Linda Castronovo, will walk us through the tabulation process so we can see first-hand how RCV ensures that winners have broad-based support, eliminates vote-splitting and the impact of "spoiler" candidates, and creates a fairer outcome.
Linda is a retired Amherst teacher who now volunteers with VoterChoiceMassachusetts. It is a non-partisan, politically diverse, non-profit organization dedicated to educating the public about electoral reforms that increase the range of choice on the ballot and produce fairer election outcomes.

Voter Choice MA advocates for the expanded use of Ranked Choice Voting (RCV), which is a simple change to the ballot that allows voters to rank candidates in order of preference. RCV makes elections more competitive and fairer by encouraging the participation of more candidates and parties, improving voter turnout, and by ensuring that outcomes more accurately reflect the will of the voters.
 


 
Amherst Girls' Leadership Day: 1-2-3 Girls LEAD!

On Thursday, October 4, the Amherst League of Women Voters is sponsoring a Girl's Leadership Day, "1-2-3 Girls LEAD!" Its purpose is to teach a group of girls from Amherst Regional High School how to become effective leaders: to help them gain confidence, learn skills, and practice techniques which are important for young leaders. Skills such as speaking, marketing, organizing and collaborating will be taught by experts in their field.
 
The LWV hopes to have a diverse group of 20-25 girls (7 or 8 from each grade 10-12) for this program, which has been approved as a school activity by ARHS Principal Mark Jackson. The event is not intended for girls who are already considered leaders. Instead, we hope to have girls with different voices and backgrounds who would like to learn leadership skills. Response to the program has been enthusiastic;  all spaces have been filled.  
 
There will be a follow-up session in the Spring of 2019, and throughout the year the LWV workshop leaders will stay in touch with the participants to act as resources and mentors.  
 
The keynote speaker will be Democratic nominee for Third District Representative and LWVAmherst member Mindy Domb, who will address the topic, "What Makes a Good Leader?" Amherst School Committee chair Anastasia Ordonez, a marketing consultant, will lead a workshop on "How to Promote Your Cause." Workshop Coordinators are Cynthia Brubaker and Rebecca Fricke.  
 
--Cynthia Brubaker and Rebecca Fricke
Fall Candidate Forum for Amherst Town Council on October 23

The League of Women Voters will hold three "mini-forums" for the 26 candidates for the new Amherst Town Council on Tuesday, October 23, between 6 and 9 p.m. in the auditorium of the Amherst Regional Middle School.  
 
The schedule is:  
 
6 to 7:15 p.m.: Districts 1, 2 and 3 (12 candidates) 
7:22 to 8:01: At-large candidates (6 candidates)
8:08 to 8:59: Districts 4 and 5 (8 candidates)  
 
Unlike most LWVA candidate forums, we will not be taking questions from the floor in this tightly-scheduled event. Instead, the Voter Service Committee has come up with three questions (the same for all candidates) that it hopes will elicit individuality and specificity in candidate responses. The questions are based on questions submitted during the August 29 forum for the at-large candidates. Those covered a wide gamut of issues, and we were able to use only a fraction in that forum.  
 
The lobby of the auditorium will have several tables for candidate materials and will be available for candidates when they are not on stage.  
 
The League will also publish another election guide for these candidates in the November 2 Amherst Bulletin.
 
--Kathy Campbell
Democracy and The League...In Action
     
It's been a busy election summer in Amherst as the town governance has changed.  We now have a town council made up of five districts with 2 representatives each and three at large members.  Each member needed to be newly elected with a primary on September 4th and the general election on November 6th.  Dozens of candidates needed to be introduced to the public and the public needed to be informed about the new format and about the new districts (though everyone is still voting in the old precincts.)   
 
     So...the League stepped in to do our usual, non-partisan education.  We planned and organized five "meet and greet" events on the same night for each of the districts.  This was a lot more complicated than it might seem: securing each location, agreeing on the format and appropriate questions, organizing the spaces, finding moderators, and making sure the meetings were well publicized.  Even after weeks of planning there were a few glitches: shortened hours at one library setting, less than perfect acoustics, not enough chairs.  
 
Some pictures from the August 21 district meetings...
Small groups in District 4.

 
 
Crowded District 5.
 
 
Candidates' panel in District 3
 
 
 But we learned some things for another time!  Like microphones!  But every meeting was very well attended with audiences respectfully engaged in discussion, eager to ask questions, and interested in educating themselves.  Despite small hot rooms, no working mikes, confusion about district vs precinct, everyone was enthusiastic, grateful for the meetings, even staying afterward to mingle, talk, and put the chairs away.
 
 
      
 
The Amherst Regional Middle School auditorium was packed eight days later for a more typical League forum for the at large candidates.  Six of the nominees were present and introduced themselves, answered questions from the audience, and gave closing remarks.  Again League members did an exemplary job organizing the event and carrying out all the jobs necessary for a successful evening: tables in the foyer for candidate materials, introductions, questions solicited from the audience, topics refined and consolidated to elicit answers from all the candidates, time keepers, and even fans and extension cords brought to the school at the last moment.  Nonstop action!  Another well executed and worthwhile evening for League members and for the community.
 
     The Voters' Guide which filled the pages of the Amherst Bulletin just before the primary gave citizens all the who, where, when, why information they needed to go out and vote...and so they did.
 
-Trish Farrington, Associate Editor
Forum on Affordable Housing Co-sponsored by Amherst League, November 1
 
The Amherst League of Women Voters will co-sponsor a forum on affordable housing with the Amherst Municipal Affordable Housing Trust (AMAHT) on November 1 starting at 6:45 p.m., place TBA.  A panel discussion of AMAHT's new Housing Policy will be followed by a discussion on possibilities for developing affordable housing at the site of the old East Street School.
 

Voter Registration: Opportunities and Activities


From the Voter Registration Committee

The LWVA Voter Registration Committee met and is very excited about organizing to enroll voters for 2018 as well as 2020.  Alice Swift, one of our long-term members, provided a training for all of those new to the actual process of voter registration. The training was helpful, interesting and fun.  
 
Here are a few of our recent Voter Registration events:
Barbara Pearson at march. Note hat! 
 
-You may have read about the student march from Worcester to Smith and Wesson headquarters in Springfield, "50 Miles More," Thursday August 23- Sunday, August 26. The marchers called on Smith and Wesson to stop making weapons outlawed in Massachusetts' 2004 Assault Weapons Ban.
Amherst LWV's Barbara Pearson was there to register voters. Barbara commented: "We found relatively few people to register. . . Even the 16-year-olds were pre-registered.  But there was a big emphasis on the need to VOTE and so it was good that there were the 3 of us in the crowd to offer it."

-Two members of the Voter Registration Committee set up a table at the Town of Amherst First Day event on the Amherst Town Common.  It was a very hot evening on August 28th!  We enjoyed chatting with people who came by our table especially one young fellow of 11 years old who says he is ready to pre-register to vote the day he turns 16.  We were inspired!
  
-Amherst League member Barbara Pearson, who is also on the Pioneer Valley Community Action Head Start
Tabling at Head Start!
Policy Council, was able to combine both activities this fall.  Barbara and Emmalie Dropkin, a UMass graduate student, teamed up to cover the parent Open Houses at Community Action's 11 Head Start sites from Greenfield to Westfield.  It's encouraging to learn from their experience that most of the Head Start parents (and staff) are already registered.  Still, the two submitted around a dozen new forms to various Town Clerks, gave out a stack of "register online to vote" cards, explained the ballot questions, and in general answered enough questions and concerns around voting that we will try to repeat it.   
       
-Members Joan Burgess, Eva Cashdan, Brenda and Tom Davies, Barbara Ford, Phyllis Lehrer, Adrienne Terrizzi and Kathy Vorwerk were on hand for the annual three hour, ½ mile long Amherst Block Party on September 20.      
 
 
 
Phyllis L. and Adrienne T.
 
Eva C and Surinder Mehta 
 
T hey registered voters, offered membership applications and League materials, and provided informational
handouts both on LWVMA's stands on the three State ballot questions, and on the non-binding questions to appear on ballots in Amherst and some other Western Mass. communities. (The October e-bulletin will provide more information on the non-binding questions.)
 
-Here's one of the upcoming Voter Registration events.  Stay tuned for more!
 
- September 25 at the Jones Library Atrium for National Voter Registration Day.  Stop by and say hello anytime between 4pm and 6pm!
 
If you wish to participate in the Voter Registration Committee, please contact Nancy DiMattio.
 
-Nancy DiMattio, with contributions from Barbara Pearson  and Adrienne Terrizzi. 
LWV Plans Voter Registration at Amherst Regional High School, October 4

One of the caucus sessions that I attended at the LWV National Convention in Chicago this past summer was on registering high school students to vote.  The presenting leagues were from LA and Michigan; the registration programs were for districts including high schools with thousands of students.  I sat there and thought to myself, if those leagues could pull registration off in multiple huge high schools, certainly Amherst could make it happen in ARHS with just around 1000 students.  
 
Sure enough, we can.  On October 4th every senior advisory will talk about the importance of voting.  Students will be handed the "How to Register to Vote" postcards and given a few minutes to register, using either their phones or a school computer.  I would like to thank Assistant Principal Talib Sadiq for helping to make this happen, the ARHS librarians who are happy to assist with voter registration, and LWV Amherst members Nancy DiMattio and Liz Larson for helping to gather the necessary text.
   
-Rebecca Fricke


Other Opportunities for Action


Connecticut River League Action

Following up on our program last spring with Andy Fisk, executive director of the Connecticut River Conservancy (CRC), the Amherst League has made connections with the Northampton and Springfield Leagues to establish an Inter-League study/action group. This group will be working to implement the "Connecticut River Basin Inter-League Program", a position adopted in 1965-66.
 
One of our first actions will be to meet with Andy Fisk to learn more about what river issues CRC is currently working on and what legislation affecting the river might be coming up next year among other topics. The most immediate work of the CRC is its Source to Sea Cleanup, its 22nd such event, on September 28 & 29. For more information on the Cleanup, click here. 
 
Another resource for our work is noted in the September Mass League Action Newsletter. The state League's water resources specialist has requested more Leaguers to work on planning, strategy and lobbying on these water issues. By working with Carol Lee, the League specialist, we will learn a lot and will be able to
Photo thanks to the Connecticut River Conservancy.
provide the state League with more local information about the Connecticut River.
 
For more information about this and/or if you would like to participate in this study-action group, please contact Elizabeth Davis by email or  414.835.0290.
 
-Elizabeth Davis
 


New Local Government Committee

The Voter Service Committee has been busy providing voters with opportunities to hear from candidates, both for the preliminary election in September and the upcoming November election for Town Council members.  It's time to start thinking about the next step as Amherst moves into this new form of government.

The Local Government Committee is seeking people interested in joining a new Observer Corps. It would be good to have one or more League members at inaugural Council meeting (or meetings) in December.
 
If you are interested in participating in the Observer Corps, or in being a member of the Local Government Committee, contact Martha Hanner.  
 
 
Are you concerned about out-of-state money spent on ballot questions campaigns?

Limiting the amount of money spent on ballot question campaigns is one of the study questions to be examined by a small LWVAmherst group studying the ballot question process in Massachusetts. Another questions asks whether more information about donations to these campaigns should be made available. Studying these and other questions, the Amherst group will be working this fall towards a consensus meeting in January and a report to the LWVMA by February 16.

LWVMA has posted online all the documents the study group needs; presumably most of the studying would be done by individual members on their own, with a few group meetings to share (if it divides up the 15 questions) and discuss how to present the material to the consensus meetings.

LWVMA will run a webinar four times between October 15 and November 14, providing helpful information. For the webinar schedule, click here .

Although the study committee may not start the bulk of the work until after the November election, if possible a group will be formed in October.

If you are curious or think you may be interested, take a look at the materials which LWVMA has made available here.  The study committee needs both old hands at such studies and novices.  Please contact any member of the Steering Committee to express interested in participating. 
               

LWVMA News 


News from the September League Leader Update

There's more information available about LWVMA's positions on the State Ballot Questions.  As given here before, information about LWVMA's stands and reasons for taking its stands can be read here. You can also access "Resources for Ballot Question Information," which provides names and links to organizations which campaign for and against each ballot question, This can be most easily accessed by accessing the September League Leader Update. Click here to go to newsletters, then scroll to the September issue and on page 5, at the top of the page, click on "Resources for ballot question information." That will take you to the pdf with the information. More accessible are the "Guidelines for ballot question forums and advocacy": click here. 
 
LWVMA has moved. New address: 90 Canal St., Suite 414, Boston, MA 02114. Telephone 857-452-1715. Email still lwvma@lwvma.org
 
LWVMA is working on an updated Voters Guide, incorporating the results of the primary election. The new version will be available here on Wednesday, October 10.
 

LWVUS News  
 
 
LWVUS Emphasizes Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI)

According to the recent (September) LWVMA League Leader Update, LWVUS is putting on "a series of webinars on diversity, equity, and inclusion. The third in the series will cover putting DEI principles into action to increase the League's social impact work in communities across the nation." For the September Update, click here.

At the LWVUS League Management website, the registration form for the third webinar is available ( click here to register). Although information on any of the three webinars could not be found, the National's statement about Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion can be found here. The Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Continued Learning site contains a useful list of articles, books, and videos.

   

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