A Profile of Sherry Smith

Sherry SmithGrowing up, Sherry Smith, current President of the League of Women Voters Bay Area (LWVBA), listened in on the local League unit meetings her mother held in the living room. Always updated on local politics from a young age, it was natural for Smith to major in political science in college, and later go on to take and pass the Bar in California, Oregon and Texas. In the past few years, Smith has worn many hats — from serving on the Board of the League of  Women Voters Berkeley Albany Emeryville (LWVBAE) and Berkeley Fair Campaign Practices and Open Government Commission (FCPC/OGC) to being recently selected as LWVBA President and a commissioner on the new Berkeley Redistricting Commission.

Smith’s strong background with the LWV, having started committee work for the LWVBAE in the 1990’s, has heavily informed her contributions to the City of Berkeley FCPC/OGC, and likely will on the Redistricting Commission. As part of the FCPC, established before the OGC, Smith helped monitor the City of Berkeley Initiative Charter Amendment, which enforces an election calendar and expectations of anyone running for office in Berkeley. Common violations of the Charter Amendment include late financial contribution reports, and come before the FCPC/OGC during the election season.

The OGC, originally proposed to Council as the “Sunshine Ordinance,” was established in 2011 to ensure that citizens have open, fair access to public meetings and documents. Smith, along with other League members, was instrumental in creating the proposal to bring the OGC before Berkeley City Council. By giving a second role to FCPC commissioners, the combination FCPC/OGC cut down city costs from the original “sunshine ordinance.” Transparency, the foundation of the OGC, is of utmost importance to Smith, especially considering her involvement in the LWV.

“One of our basic tenets [in the League] is calling for transparency in governmental activities,” she noted, “It takes organizations like the League and Common Cause and similar groups dedicated to good government to make sure there is no back-sliding on the part of government officials and staff.”

As of February 11th 2021, Smith was selected to serve on the new City of Berkeley Independent Redistricting Commission (IRC), and had to resign her place on the FCPC/OGC. The IRC is charged with drafting new electoral border lines for the 2022 election season, creating logical perimeters with equal numbers of voters in each district with the aid of demographers and map-drawers. New redistricting maps can be extremely controversial, and Smith expects the IRC to have many drafts before a final decision.

As the current LWVBA President, overseeing all 20 Bay Area Leagues, with a thorough background in law and city government, Smith will no doubt make valuable contributions to the IRC.

–Lucy Montgomery

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