League Members Vote on Issues at Program Planning

The League of Women Voters Berkeley, Albany, and Emeryville (LWVBAE) met at the annual Program Planning Meeting on February 17th, 2024. About 20 League members gathered to discuss the issues they believed should be emphasized in the upcoming year on the local level and on the national level over the next two years.

Each year, the League meets to decide which three issues will be emphasized. “Emphasizing” means both educating our members and the public about the issue, and advocating for it, like lobbying city council members. The League alternates discussing National and State program planning each year. This year, League members discussed National program planning.

Eric Arens, the Chair of the Climate Team, gave the first presentation about why fighting climate change by educating the public about electrification strategies was critical in the upcoming year. Next, Hank Abrons, the Co-chair of the Healthcare Team, spoke about why health care should continue to be an issue of emphasis. Abrons mentioned that their last event which focused on the privatization of Medicare attracted over 200 registrants. This is a compelling indicator that League members and the wider public are very interested in learning about the state of our healthcare system.

Next Christine Wenrich, the Chair of the Criminal Justice/Criminal League System Team, shared an overview of their work that focuses on tracking the progress of Berkeley’s Police Accountability Board, Albany’s Policing Commission, education, and advocacy. Recently Xavier Nguyen, one of the team’s interns, authored a letter about Assembly Constitutional Amendment (ACA 4) that the team submitted to Berkeley City Council as requested by the League of Women Voters California. ACA 4 would allow California voters to decide whether the nearly one hundred thousand disenfranchised incarcerated people completing their sentences in California prisons should be able to fully participate in our democracy. In fact, 60 percent of California voters already support a constitutional amendment to restore an imprisoned person’s right to vote, according to a state-wide poll.

After some discussion Jinky Gardner, the Action Coordinator, asked the members if they had any other issues to introduce to the body. Because no one introduced a new issue, the consensus was that we would continue to follow the same issues in the following year: Health care, Climate Change, and Criminal Justice.

The meeting then focused on the issues for emphasis at the national level. Ellen Wheeler, the LWVBAE Coach, advised that there was no need to vote on every issue that could possibly fall under “Making Democracy Work” and explained that this would continue to be a priority for the League of Women Voters United States.

Abrons then introduced the importance of supporting the Vermont Concurrence on Privatization. He said that health care is an issue that Leagues across the country are passionate about, and they are committed to stopping its ongoing privatization. He said that LWV of Vermont’s Health Care Committee, after significant study, developed a new Privatization position after LWV of the United States (LWVUS) advised that the national position on privatization was not sufficient to support the kind of advocacy needed to protect health care resources. LWV Vermont is committed to bringing this discussion to the National Convention in June, and has asked Leagues to support their proposed update to the LWVUS position on privatization. Abrons then requested that LWVBAE members also vote in favor of making health care an area of emphasis to propose to LWVUS.

At this point in the meeting, members voted on the issues for emphasis at the national level and the Vermont Concurrence. Attendees voted in favor of the following:

  • Making Democracy Work
  • Health care
  • Proposal to add the Vermont Concurrence to the 2024 LWVUS Convention to bolster the LWVUS Privatization Position: Concurring with this LWVVT language at Convention will update the LWVUS position without requiring any outlay of resources by either local Leagues or LWVUS. Attendees voted in favor of the following:
    • Publicly Support the Concurrence
    • Support Putting it in Planning Survey

After the outcome of the vote was announced, a few members discussed having in-person activities and new member recruitment efforts. Gardner then thanked everyone for attending, participating, and adjourned the meeting early.

–Ngawang Chime


All League News