President's Message: November 1, 2017

The Fair Elections Act Needs Your Support

We have been actively supporting a campaign finance reform bill to provide matching funds for small donors for the last three years.  The position on which we base that support dates to March 1974, and it reads:  “The League of Women Voters of the District of Columbia supports public financing of local election campaign expenses.  We favor the matching-end concept of controlling the public share of election campaign costs.”

When the proposed act of 2015 expired at the end of the Council’s 2015-2016 period, nine Council members came together to submit a new bill with co-sponsor Anita Bonds:  The Fair Elections Act of 2017, B22-0192.  Only Councilmembers Evans, Gray, and Todd did not join in endorsing the bill.  At a hearing on June 29, 75 public witnesses gave testimony in favor of the bill.  This year’s act has been modified to recognize that campaign expenses vary according to the office for which the candidate is running.  Thus, the dollar limit on single candidates is $200 for a mayoral race, $100 for an at-large Council seat, and $50 for a ward Council seat.  The match is set at 5-1 for all.

Although we and 72 other organizations based in the District have been actively canvassing the city, distributing petitions, and calling on Councilmembers as a coalition, the bill seems to be stalled.  Councilmembers need to hear from their constituents in larger numbers.  Please call, email, or write your Councilmember’s office to say you support reforming campaign finance law and passage of this bill.  It is still sitting in the Judiciary and Public Safety Committee, so those members are especially important to reach.  The Committee is chaired by Councilmember Charles Allen from the Ward 6; other members include Councilmembers Bonds (At-Large), Cheh (Ward 3), Gray (Ward 7), and Grosso (At-Large).   And, if you live in another Ward, contact your representative as well.  We would really like the bill to be passed this year, so it can be included in the budget for next year.

A Big Thank You to Our Dedicated Voter Services Committee

Our Voter Services Committee regularly attends monthly Naturalization ceremonies at the District Courthouse, and they also work on voter registration at local businesses, schools, and street fairs.  This summer and fall have been particularly hectic, as the increased number of new citizens has resulted in multiple ceremonies each month, rather than just the customary second Tuesday of the month.    And it is a busy time for street fairs.

Kudos go to Linda Softli, the chair, and all of our volunteers:  Sally Cassidy, Kathy Chiron, Noel Curtis, Alexandra Dickson, Kathy Fairley, Amy Friedman, Paula Hirschoff, Katherine Iseley, Ann Laroche, Judy Osborne, Caroline Petti, Jane Stein, Mary Pat Twomey, Ursala Knudsen-Latta, Veronica Letelier, Shayna McCready, Kia Hunter, Kevin North, and  Ann von der Lippe.

We appreciate all the work you do, and having been at the Naturalization ceremonies and at other sites with you, I have seen how pleased the new voters are to have contact with you and to get registered to vote.  You make a tremendous difference in our community.  You also do the League proud!  Thank you.

And Thank Yous to All Who Helped in the Office Move

As you know we have searched for new office space for months.  I want to thank everyone who helped in that search.  You include Anne Anderson, Alexandra Dickson, Chris Matthews, Abigail Nichols, Kathryn Ray, and Mary Pat Twomey.  It was a bit anxiety making as we had to be out of the Friends of the Earth space by October 31st.  But in the end we found very nice space right next to Union Station on Capitol Hill.  We are subletting from the National Association of Social Workers.

We packed the office on October 25th and moved into the new space the next day.  Many many thanks to Hank Beebe, Ken Nesper, Linda Softli, and Barbara Yeomans who helped packed our belongings and get us ready to move and to Hank, Ken, and Linda who did the actual move.  The new address is 750 First Street, NE, Suite 800, Washington, DC 20002, and our new phone numbers are 202-336-8209 and 202-336-8379.  One of the many positives about the building is that it is very secure, so we need to know in advance when someone is coming to see us so as to  register visitors’ names with security.

Huge Sigh of Relief    

If you heard an enormous noise late in the day of September 29, it could have been Anne Anderson and I after we submitted our article on the Statehood Toolkit project to the David A. Clarke Law Review.  We had been researching and writing much of the summer, and it’s a very fat, meaty piece of work that weighs in at 62 pages.  By the time you read this, we will have responded to the articles editor’s comments and questions.  It is scheduled to be published early next year.

Hope to see you at the Holiday Tea at our house on December 2nd (see invitation on the right).