Expanding & Diversifying League Ranks at the 2023 LWVC Convention

For 7 workshops, 10 caucuses, 7 guest speakers, program adoption, and the election of state league officers and directors, 55 leagues from all over the state came together May 19-21 in San Francisco for the LWVC convention. The workshops, caucuses, and guest speakers touched on topics ranging from the League’s new healthcare position to redistricting to election turnout among young people of color. On May 21, with unanimous consent, a new program for 2023-2025 was adopted, with Making Democracy Work in California, climate change/sustainability with a focus on water, housing and homelessness, and criminal justice/juvenile justice reform as issues for emphasis.

Following an impressive presentation given by LWVC Nominating Committee Co-Chairs, Carolina Goodman and Marilu Guevara, who presented a robust and diverse slate to elect to serve as the League of Women Voters of California’s officers and directors for the next two years, the slate was approved by the membership. Former and current LWVBAE presidents Adena Ishii and Kandea Mosely Gandhi will again be bringing their experienced and passionate leadership to the state as First Vice President and Co-Chair of the Nominating Committee, respectively. Their work creating a more diverse and inclusive League as well as creating opportunities for youth engagement in League work has been essential and aspirational.

Alex Li
At a caucus on Youth Outreach, delegates from LWV Alameda, LWV Solano County, and LWV Marin discussed youth engagement programs at their respective leagues. In Marin, students receive voter registration training, then conduct voter registration drives at their high schools in conjunction with the Marin County Elections Department. A steering committee, which includes two student members, provides training and support as part of the program. In Solano County, the league works with the Solano County Youth Coalition as part of their Democracy Matters program. Students receive observer corp and voter registration training, conduct voter registration drives, and mock government meetings. The Alameda LWV presented their new civics education game – VerifyIt – a quiz game with questions designed to inform and tailored by state. Through these programs and those like them (such as the BAE’s Helene Lecar Civic Engagement Program), the League of Women Voters is incorporating a new generation into the League’s work.

The topic of conversation at the advocacy workshop hosted by California League of Women Voters lobbyist Dora Rose was the League’s work in Sacramento. Through testimony, collaboration with legislators and organizations like the ACLU, and position papers the California LWV advocates for our positions. In the past few years, the legislation the League has been involved in includes AB 37, which requires that ballots be mailed to every registered voter, and AB 764, which prohibits protecting incumbents as a consideration for redistricting. 

Christine Wenrich
LWVC delegates voted for Criminal Justice as an issue of emphasis at the LWVC Convention held the weekend of May 19.  Juvenile Justice Reform was attached to complete the composition of the 2023-2025 program.

The Criminal Justice Interest group held a caucus during the second day of the convention. Three working groups presented their work.  The Sheriff Oversight group discussed the implementation of AB 1185, a law that outlines the establishment of county sheriff oversight commissions.  They noted AB 2761 which requires a report for any in-custody deaths, some of which are suicides, and added that an estimated 60% of inmates today have serious mental health difficulties.  A link with oversight reports was shared:  http://www.auditor.ca.gov/. The Policing in the Schools group has been studying the effect of police presence, finding that rather than helping, police are creating fear in some schools.  

The Interest Group told of work to get the vote into the jails.  LWVC supports voting rights for those incarcerated in state and federal jails for felonies.  Members of the interest group argue that inmates maintain their citizenship, continue to pay taxes, and have families, so voting should be a right.  This supports having incarceration be rehabilitation with a return to the community.  Assembly Constitutional Amendment No. 4 (ACA 4) and AB 1595 are making their way through the Assembly now.  A convincing argument was sent by LWVC to the Assembly April 21. 2023. https://ct3.blob.core.windows.net/23blobs/a4c5fd42-ad29-4f4c-88a9-a42ea201c9f1

The LWV Berkeley Albany Emeryville invite you to join their Criminal Justice Team, or simply keep informed through the LWV of California’s Google Group.  Please send an email to archivist@lwvbae.org to sign on.

Diz Swift
At the workshop “Are we an effective grassroots organization? Let’s talk about forming stronger local Leagues!” there was a discussion of all of the wonderful information from Local League Coaches. The resources they provided are deep and can be found here. Their slides are here.

A discussion of food waste was held at a caucus on Fighting Climate Change with the New Climate Smart Agriculture and Food Action Policy. A food waste fact sheet and a U.S. food waste toolkit and guide was provided.

Adena Ishii
As a delegate for LWVBAE, as well as a Director on the LWV of California (LWVC) board, it was a busy convention. Our LWVC Diversity, Equity, Inclusion (DEI) Committee held a workshop titled, “The Power of Words: Creating a Culture of Belonging.” We had some impressive speakers who created a supportive environment for attendees to ask questions and get support in using more inclusive language.

On Saturday evening, the LWVC and LWV of San Francisco held a Drag for Democracy, a celebration of people working at the forefront of the LGBTQ+ equity and democracy spaces. We gave awards to Scott Wiener, Honey Mahogany, and other deserving recipients. There were many impressive local drag queens and kings, and music by DJ Lady Ryan. The show was hosted by my sister, Erika Ishii, who is known for her voiceover work and Dungeons and Dragons/tabletop game play on Twitch and other platforms. On Sunday, I was elected to the role of First Vice President on the LWVC Board. I also completed my responsibilities as delegate to vote on our budget, positions, and priorities. I was very grateful to go as one of our delegates, and I wish I had been able to spend more time with our other delegates.

Hank Abrons
About 30 Convention attendees participated in a lively caucus on Saturday sponsored by the LWVC Healthcare Interest Group. The topic was “Update on Health Care” with a focus on the new LWV Position on Health Care, highlights of the 2022 Healthy California for All Commission report, and proposals to overhaul CA health care. Caucus materials included a brief slide presentation and list of resources.

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