March 2018
Women Make Democracy Work!
What better way to celebrate International Women's Day than by learning how to advocate for the causes you believe in?

Join us on March 8 for a hands-on advocacy training, where you'll learn the following:

  • the up-to-date facts on the Florida Constitution Review Commission (CRC) and the issues that are at stake;
  • more about the "Terrible 10" proposed constitutional amendments and what they mean for Floridians if passed;
  • how to prepare to testify for the CRC's public hearing in St. Petersburg on March 13;
  • how to craft a 90-120 second speech, a persuasive email or a letter to the editor.

Plus you'll have the opportunity to receive feedback from seasoned advocates on the issues you're most passionate about.

The workshop is led by the League of Women Voters of the St. Petersburg Area and co-sponsored by Fired Up Pinellas. Everyone is invited to attend, but please register ahead of time. Refreshments will be provided.

The event will be held from 6:15 to 8:45 at Allendale United Methodist Church, located at 3803 Haines Road in St. Petersburg.

If you can't attend the March 8 training but you still want to hone your skills as an advocate, mark your calendars for March 29, when we'll hold another training - this one focused on gun safety and net neutrality.

We'll have the latest on what legislation passed, and what didn't pass. It should be no surprise that areas of focus for our legislators were guns, education, preemption, and voting.

We'll also launch our net neutrality initiative – what is it, why it matters, and what we’re going to do about it. The advocacy workshop portion of our event will focus on arming you with facts and talking points, role=playing how to communicate your message to our local legislators, and more.

Speak Out About the
Future of the Florida Constitution

The Constitution Revision Commission will be holding a public hearing on March 13 at USF St. Petersburg - and this is YOUR chance to make your voice heard on the "Terrible 10" proposed constitution amendments and a proposed assault rifle ban.

PLEASE NOTE: If you'd like to speak on behalf of the League, you MUST do one of the following:

  • Attend the March 8 advocacy training at Allendale United Methodist Church (this is preferred);
  • Speak with LWVSPA President Julie Kessel ahead of time;
  • Sign up on the day of the hearing at a table that will be staffed by Amy Weintraub in the lobby of the USFSP University Student Center.

If you speak on behalf of the League, you must use the League talking points. You also have the option to speak on your own behalf.

You will have two minutes to speak during the public hearing, and you will only be allowed to speak once. You do not need to attend the entire event, but you should expect to stand in line before you will be able to speak in front of the CRC.

Short Documentary Shows How
St. Petersburg Defends Our Democracy

Last October, St. Petersburg became the first municipality in the country to ban super PACS and prohibit foreign investment in our local elections. On Jan. 1, that ordinance became law.

To document this historic journey, we created a documentary, which we presented along with our success story at a national good democracy advocacy conference in New Orleans in February.

Enjoy this hard-won labor of love, and thank you to all of you who had a hand in this big democracy win. YOU ARE MAKING DEMOCRACY WORK.

Please post the video and share it online with your friends and colleagues and show them what's possible when a group of citizens organize to take on big money in politics. You can find the video on YouTube and on Facebook .

A special thanks to Karen Lieberman for driving this project, and Theresa Darlington for hooking us up with documentarians, and to all of you! We will be submitting this initiative to the National League for award consideration at the national conference in June of 2018 in Chicago.
Meet Julia, Our New Office Manager
Julia Sharp has been active in social and political causes throughout her life: raising the most pennies in the third grade to help save the rainforest, developing LGBTQ Safe Zone training at her local community college, and now supporting the creation of a comprehensive sex ed curriculum in Pinellas County.

Julia joined the LWVSPA as the Community Engagement and Office Manager and LWVFL as the Events and Travel Manager in January 2018.

Like most of us, she is a non-native Floridian, hailing from the DC area. Julia is also on the Board of Friends of North Shore Elementary and Temple Beth el's Preschool Society. When not tending to League activities, Julia can be found at Crescent Lake playground with her two small children, Olivia and Laurel, and her husband, Christian.
Get Involved Ahead of the 2018 Elections!
The 2018 elections will be here before long, and the LWVSPA's Voter Service team is already hard at work on two big projects aimed at helping citizens get ready to vote: a new Voter Guide website for Pinellas County and a voter registration campaign.

We're rebuilding our online Voter Guide to make it easier to use, more mobile friendly and more functional. We hope to launch it by late June, and we need your help to make it happen! We need people who are willing to do research on issues and resources, help us develop our candidate survey, administer and develop the WordPress site, and assist with communications and media promotions.

If you're interested in helping out with this project, contact Voter Services Chair Raechel Garafalo to sign up.

We're also kicking off our 2018 Voter Registration Campaign on March 19. This is a great opportunity to get involved with the League's goals of reaching underrepresented communities (including students.)

If you're interested in taking part, make sure to RSVP for the March 19 meeting. That meeting will be held from 5:30 to 7 at St. Petersburg College's Downtown campus, located at 244 2nd Ave. N in St. Petersburg.

We can use your skills and energy to prepare for this critical election year. Join us and help make democracy work!
What's Happening Around the LWVSPA?

Over 170 parents, teachers and citizens gathered on Feb. 27 at Allendale United Methodist Church to watch "Backpack Full of Cash," a feature-length documentary on the privatization of public schools and the resulting impact on America’s most vulnerable children.

The LWVSPA Education Committee will spend the coming months informing the parents and taxpayers of Pinellas County about the effects of charter schools and tax-credit vouchers on our district. With HB 7055, the Florida Legislature is proving that we have a battle on our hands. Read more...
Gun Safety

Over 100 participants attended our panel, entitled “Preventing Gun Violence: A Community Conversation,” on Feb. 13. Led by moderator Ryan Mitchell, the panelists - St. Petersburg City Council Chair Lisa Wheeler-Bowman, pediatrician Dr. David Berman, and licensed psychologist Dr. Amanda Raitano - shared their perspectives on gun violence and actions the community can take.

Key recommendations included the need to address the root cause and look at the role of poverty and race; the need for families to take an active role in monitoring children’s mental health and be good role models; the need to keep guns locked, store ammo separately, and lock cars with locked guns; the need to humanize victims in order to most effectively tell the story; and the need for each of us to get involved. Read more...

Our focus is in two areas: passage of the DREAM Act and monitoring local impact of the Trump administration’s increased emphasis on the detention and deportation of law abiding undocumented immigrants.

We continue to partner with the DREAMer-founded #ClearwaterHereToStay, helping them arrange for an immigration lawyer for their educational panel held on Feb. 26 and providing a table for so attendees could write postcards to U.S. senators, asking them to vote for a DREAM Act. Read more...
LWVSPA & LWVF in the Media
Travel and Learn with the LWVF
Natural Florida: Paradise Found
April 14-20

Join the League of Women Voters of Florida on a getaway along the pristine rivers in the Blackwater Forest, Conecuh National Forest and Eglin Range in Escambia County, which is part of the world’s largest long leaf pine forest. Experience the flora, fauna, stillness, and solitude from your kayak.

Get more info and reserve your space here:
Civil Rights Immersion
May 14-19

LWVF invites you to join law professor emeritus Robert Bickel and three veterans of the Civil Rights Movement to explore three Alabama cities - Montgomery, Birmingham and Selma - and learn the history of the campaign that led to the passage of the 1964 Civil Rights Act.

Upcoming Events
March 8: International Women's Day Advocacy Training
6-9 p.m. @ Allendale United Methodist Church, 3803 Haines Rd., St. Petersburg 

March 13: Press Conference: Terrible Ten, Assault Rifle Ban & CRC
11:45-12:30 p.m. @ USFSP University Student Center, 200 6th Ave. S., St. Petersburg

March 13: Constitutional Revision Commission Public Hearing
1-7 p.m. @ USFSP University Student Center, 200 6th Ave. S, St. Petersburg

March 19: Voter Registration Campaign Kickoff
5:30-7 p.m. @ St. Petersburg College Downtown, 244 2nd Ave. N, St. Petersburg

March 21: St. Pete Winter Solar Co-op Info Session #2
6-7:30 p.m. @ West St. Petersburg Library, 6700 8th Ave. N, St. Petersburg

March 21: Cocktails and Conversation
6-8 p.m. @ Pia's Trattoria, 3045 Beach Blvd. S, Gulfport

March 24: March For Our Lives Tampa
10 a.m. @ Kiley Garden, 400 N. Ashley Dr., Tampa

March 26: Democracy 101
6:30-8:30 p.m. @ Allendale United Methodist Church, 3803 Haines Rd., St. Petersburg

March 29: Advocacy Training: Net Neutrality
6:15-8:45 p.m. @ Allendale United Methodist Church, 3803 Haines Rd., St. Petersburg

April 2: International Relations Study Group: Saudi Arabia
2-3:30 p.m. @ Barbara S. Ponce Public Library, 7700 52nd St. N, Pinellas Park

For Other Upcoming Events
Membership: Are You Up for Renewal?
Join us. Renew your membership. We make a difference.

We need your support to continue our work in the community and at state and national levels. Whether you want to be an active member or a supporting member, your dues help advance the League's mission.

We invite you to renew today !
We offer five levels of membership :
Carrie Chapman Catt (Gold) for $250*
Susan B. Anthony (Silver) for $125*
Household for $78* 
Individual for $52
Student for $26
*Includes two members residing at the same address.

A large percentage of what you pay for an individual membership goes to support our state and national Leagues. By selecting the Gold or Silver membership level, most of your dues will help support the work of our local League.
2017-2018 League Leadership
President: Julie Kessel
First Vice President: Sharon Winters
Secretary: Lisa Vanover
Treasurer: Caroline Bloodworth
Caitlin Constantine
Raechel Garafalo
Linsey Grove
Susan Mayer
Marty Shapiro

Visit our website for more information about our local leaders.

Click here for more information about our education and advocacy groups.
Gun Safety: Sharon Winters
Immigration: Karen Coale, Lydia Castle
Health Care: Julie Kessel
Reproductive Rights: Amy Weintraub
Campaign Finance Reform/Social Justice: Julie Kessel, Karen Lieberman
Education: Robin Jones, Iris Yetter
Voter Service: Raechel Garafalo
Voter Registration: Lindsay Murdock
Sustainability: Lisa Vanover
International Relations: Judy McSwine
Social Media/Promotion Lead: Amy Weintraub
Office Administrator: Julia Sharp
League of Women Voters of the St. Petersburg Area
Telephone: 727-896-5197
The League of Women Voters, a nonpartisan political organization,
encourages informed and active participation in government, works to increase
understanding of major public policy issues, and influences public policy through education and advocacy .