The year 2020 marks the 100th anniversary of two major events: the passage of the 19th Amendment giving women the right to vote, and the founding of the League of Women Voters.
Both were celebrated in Salem on March 7, and before that, four cities in Clackamas County issued proclamations honoring the years of service of the League of Women Voters.
Longtime LWV members, June Routson and Lea Wells noted that the league came about as a result of the passage of the 19th Amendment.
The League of Women Voters is a nonpartisan organization of women and men whose purpose is to promote political responsibility through active and informed participation in government.
During the month of March, the LWV will celebrate 100 years of service activities and voter information.
The League of Women Voters of Clackamas County was founded in 1940 to promote political responsibility through informed and active participation in government and to act on selected governmental issues. At that time, the organization was called The Milwaukie East Clackamas County League of Women Voters.
In 2002, it merged with the West Clackamas County League of Women Voters, taking the name League of Women Voters of Clackamas County.
It has been instrumental in "getting Clackamas Community College started, and we did a lot for parks," Routson said. She added that the organization's main purpose has always been to educate and inform voters, so the group registers voters and participates in studies of issues that affect the county.
"Some big studies included land use when the county was just starting to write its goals," Wells said.
The local group also works on issues across counties and that "resulted in the formation of Metro," she added.
Over the years, the studies resulted in league advocacy regarding county governmental structure, library facilities and services, emergency/disaster planning and preparedness and the economic impact of growth, among others.
This fall the group will begin a study of cybersecurity.
Wells said that in addition to informing the public about upcoming elections, the league also encourages community involvement.
This May, as always in an election year, the League of Women Voters will publish its voter guide.
"It will be printed in English and Spanish and will contain information about ballot measures and candidates along with general voting information," Wells said.
The League of Women Voters of Clackamas County will contribute local information to the guide, while the statewide organization of LWV will focus on state issues.
In the county, "we send out questionnaires to candidates, and they fill in their answers," Wells said.
"We pick out three subjects critical to the positions of every candidate and they all get the same questions," she said, adding that the league never takes a position on any of the issues or candidates.
"We are very nonpartisan," Routson said.
The League of Women Voters of Clackamas County also publishes "Who's Who in Clackamas County Government," a trifold guide listing contact information for county, city, federal, state and regional government officials.
School district information also is listed in the publication.
Routson has been a member of the local League of Women Voters for more than 50 years and was president from 1965 to 1967. She noted that early in her tenure as president she took her first airplane trip to the national convention in Denver.
She has remained a member because she feels the league is "an important group that helps people be informed about issues and candidates."
Wells said she had just moved to the area in 1969, and a friend asked her to accompany her to a league meeting.
She joined, because it "was an opportunity to do something useful."
In the beginning, she joined so she could get the information she needed to vote responsibly. She dropped out for a while when she became employed, but found she still needed the information.
Wells said that when her mother was still alive, she "used the guide in every election, so we've been putting out the guide for a long time."
To learn more about the League of Women Voters of Clackamas County, visit lwvclackamas.org. To learn more about the national organization, visit lwv.org. Clackamas LWV is sponsoring a forum for those running for Clackamas County Commissioner positions on April 14 at West Linn City Hall, time to be announced.
Mayor Mark Gamba read the following proclamation at a Milwaukie City Council meeting March 3.
WHEREAS, the League of Women Voters of Clackamas County has, since its founding in Milwaukie and Lake Oswego in 1955, made significant contributions to good local government through its nonpartisan community services activities and voter information programs; and WHEREAS, the year 2020 marks the 100th anniversary of the League in our nation and in the State of Oregon; and WHEREAS, the City Council of the City of Milwaukie appreciates and commends the League membership for outstanding public service in our community and urges broad public support of the League of Women Voters and its program objectives. NOW, THEREFORE, I, Mark Gamba, Mayor of the City of Milwaukie, a municipal corporation in the County of Clackamas, in the State of Oregon, do hereby proclaim March 2020 to be League of Women Voters Month in Milwaukie in recognition of the League's 100 years of service. IN WITNESS, WHEREOF, and with the consent of the City Council of the City of Milwaukie, I have hereunto set my hand on this 3rd day of March 2020.
WHEREAS, Milwaukie women of every race, class, and ethnic background have made historic contributions to the growth and strength of our city in countless ways; and WHEREAS, Milwaukie women have played and continue to play critical economic, cultural and social roles in every sphere of the city by constituting a significant portion of the labor force working inside and outside the home; and WHEREAS, Milwaukie women have played a unique role throughout the history of the city by providing most of the volunteer labor force of the city; and WHEREAS, Milwaukie women were particularly important in the establishment of early charitable, philanthropic, and cultural institutions in our city; and WHEREAS, Milwaukie women of every race, class, and ethnic background served as early leaders in the forefront of every major progressive social change movement; and WHEREAS, Milwaukie women have courageously served our country in the national and state armed forces; and WHEREAS, Milwaukie women have been leaders, not only in securing their own rights of suffrage and equal opportunity, but also in the industrial labor movement, the civil rights movements, and especially the peace movement; and WHEREAS, despite these contributions, the role of women in Milwaukie, Oregon, and our national histories, has been overlooked and undervalued. NOW, THEREFORE, I, Mark Gamba, Mayor of the City of Milwaukie, a municipal corporation in the County of Clackamas, in the State of Oregon, and with the full support and sponsorship of the Milwaukie Historical Society, do hereby proclaim MARCH 2020 to be Women's History Month in Milwaukie and do recommend its observance with appropriate programs, ceremonies, and activities. IN WITNESS WHEREOF, and with the consent of the City Council of the City of Milwaukie, I have hereunto set my hand on this 3rd day of MARCH 2020.
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