Meet and Greet a Success

Last Wednesday evening, the Upper St. Croix Valley League of Women Voters hosted a "Meet & Greet" for primary candidates running for the Wisconsin Senate District 10 seat. Four of the six primary candidates invited mingled with more than 50 voters at the Milltown Community Center. Then they presented information about themselves and a few of their primary concerns to the audience. This event was important because the election process is swift for the seat vacated by Sheila Harsdorf this past fall.

Remember to vote in the primary this coming Tuesday (December 19th).

The Upper St. Croix Valley League will present a forum with the final special election candidates on January 4th at the Unity High School Performing Arts Center. Look for more details here.

From the Wisconsin State League of Women Voters, December 12, 2017:
Two fast-tracked bills were introduced Friday and had a hearing in a state Senate committee yesterday. They reduce protections for renters and water quality, and both bills preempt the ability of local governments to address these problems in their communities:

SB 639 preempts local control of many issues related to the maintenance of a safe housing stock, and it reduces the protections that tenants have under current law. It would make it easier for a landlord to evict a tenant and harder for the tenant to get a hearing in small claims court. In addition, it would keep dismissed eviction claims cases on record for 10 years, making it harder for the tenant to find housing in the future.

SB 640 limits local control of stormwater runoff to a level no more stringent than statewide standards. Many cities, villages and towns have adopted ordinances to deal with recurring flooding of streets, existing buildings or abutting agricultural or park lands. These ordinances require new construction to retain more than 90% of the volume of precipitation on-site through use of rain gardens, wet detention ponds or infiltration basins. SB 640 prohibits local governments from taking the initiative to require these additional stormwater management practices that protect public health and safety.

This article in The Capital Times explains these bills in greater detail.  

Contact your State Senator today and urge her/him to oppose SB 639 and SB 640. In addition, call members of the Senate Committee on Insurance, Housing and Trade, and urge them to reject this bill so it doesn’t even make it to the Senate floor.   
To find your own Senator, click here and enter your address above "Find Your Legislators" near the little map of Wisconsin. To reach members of the Committee on Insurance, Housing and Trade, click here.


Meet the Primary Candidates for State Senate District 10 Seat

The League of Women Voters Upper St. Croix Valley is providing an opportunity for the public to meet the primary candidates for State Senate District 10 at an event on Wednesday, December 13th, at the Milltown Community Center. The event begins at 6:30 pm with an hour-long informal "meet & greet" with refreshments. At 7:30 pm, the candidates will have 10 minutes each to give personal introductions and make political position statements.

Five candidates are running in the primary: Republicans Shannon Zimmerman and Adam Jarchow; and Democrats Reuben Herfindahl, John Calabrese, and Patty Schachtner. Libertarian Brian Corriea is also invited to attend this event and will be on the ballot for the January special election.

State Senate District 10 includes most of Burnett, Polk, Saint Croix, and Pierce counties, and part of Dunn County. The senate seat became vacant when Senator Sheila Harsdorf was appointed as the Wisconsin State Agriculture Secretary this fall.

The primary election will be held on Tuesday, December 19th. The short timeline makes this event particularly important for residents of the northern counties. The primary election determines the final slate of candidates that will run in the special election scheduled for Tuesday, January 16th. The League of Women Voters Upper St. Croix Valley will hold a Candidate Forum on January 4th at the Unity High School Performing Arts Center. Save the date!

The Milltown Community Center is located at 301 2nd Avenue SW in Milltown.


U.S. Supreme Court Should End Partisan Gerrymandering (so politicians won’t be able to “choose their voters” by the way they draw the maps).

OP Editorial by Andrea Kaminski, Wisconsin League of Women Voters in the Urban Milwaukee

MADISON – As the U.S. Supreme Court takes up the Wisconsin redistricting case, Gill v. Whitford, the League of Women Voters of Wisconsin is urging the justices to affirm the lower court ruling. The district court last year found Wisconsin’s legislative districts to be unconstitutional based on partisan gerrymandering, and it ordered the state legislature to redraw the voting maps in time for the 2018 elections.

Since as far back as the 1940s, the League has been active in the courts and legislature to ensure fair voting districts in Wisconsin. That long tradition continued this month as we joined the League of Conservation Voters and others in filing a collaborative brief which demonstrates how Wisconsin’s rushed and secretive 2011 redistricting has led to more extreme legislation than would be expected from a more typical shift in power from one party to another.

By creating an unprecedented number of “safe districts,” in which one party is assured victory, the current Wisconsin voting maps have created a serious breakdown in the legislative process. Where the majority party used to have to reach across the aisle to gain bipartisan consensus, now it can introduce and fast-track bills with no support from the minority party and only the bare minimum opportunity for public input. Majority lawmakers, most of whom are insulated in safe districts, can do this without fear of being held accountable by voters in the next election.

Examples of the legislative breakdown have included a bill that was tracked to the desires of one multimillionaire political donor who wanted to reduce his child support payments and a case where hundreds of constituent calls and emails calling for a hearing for nonpartisan redistricting legislation were simply ignored by committee chairs in the state Senate and Assembly.

The court brief outlines the ill effects of gerrymandering on legislation in three areas on which the League advocates: funding for public education; protection of natural resources; and government accountability. The gerrymandered voting maps have made it much easier for the majority party to push through legislation that has slashed spending for public schools and the UW System, gutted the science division of the Department of Natural Resources and muzzled discussion of climate change, undermined environmental protections, and replaced our model nonpartisan Government Accountability Board with commissions of partisan appointees.

The League has held since the 1970s that voting maps should be drawn by a nonpartisan entity rather than by the legislators themselves. In the 1980s the League supported a Republican proposal to achieve nonpartisan redistricting, and now we are supporting legislation introduced by the Democrats for the same purpose. Yet in all this time our position has not changed; all that has shifted is which party is in power in the state legislature.

The Supreme Court justices have the power to end partisan gerrymandering with their ruling in Gill v. Whitford. They should do so in order to give every citizen’s vote equal weight. Then politicians won’t be able to “choose their voters” by the way they draw the maps. Instead they will have to win elections by winning over the hearts and minds of the people, as they should.

LWV Upper St. Croix Valley note:  A ruling is expected in June.

Andrea Kaminski is executive director of the League of Women Voters of Wisconsin, a nonpartisan organization that advocates for informed and active participation in government. The League welcomes women and men across the state as members. There are 18 local Leagues in Wisconsin as well as new ones forming in Sheboygan County and Greater Chippewa Valley. Follow @LWV_WI on Twitter.


September 26 is National Voter Registration Day 2017

The League of Women Voters Upper St. Croix Valley plans to help people in Polk and Burnett counties register to vote.

On September 26, 2017, Americans will celebrate National Voter Registration Day with a massive 50-state effort to register voters before Election Day this November.

With important local and state elections approaching 2018 primaries months away, every eligible American voter should exercise his or her right to be heard at the ballot box this year and next. National Voter Registration Day is the right place to start by getting registered.

That is why communities across the country are planning to use National Voter Registration Day to increase voter participation.

Thousands of national, state, and local organizations and volunteers will be the driving force behind National Voter Registration Day 2017. Partner organizations will coordinate hundreds of National Voter Registration Day events nationwide and leverage #NationalVoterRegistrationDay on all social media platforms to drive attention to voter registration and the midterm elections.

The League of Women Voters Upper St. Croix Valley is proud to be a National Voter Registration Day partner. On September 26, the league will engage citizens and register voters by putting up displays at local libraries across the two counties. Local league members will be on hand at several of the libraries to help people register.

The effort’s website, www.NationalVoterRegistrationDay.org, provides a listing of National Voter Registration Day events across the country. Founded in 2012, National Voter Registration Day is designed to create an annual moment when the entire nation focuses on registering Americans to exercise their most basic right – the right to vote. More than two million Americans have registered to vote on this day since the inaugural National Voter Registration Day.


Is It Time to Become More Politically Engaged in Polk & Burnett Counties?

Like it or not, politics--even local politics--has become more partisan. Important topics that affect all Americans such as health care, the economy and jobs, immigration, and recently, climate change, highlight the political divide. After the 2016 elections this partisan phenomenon has energized citizens, especially women, to become more politically active.

Last month on the PBS News Hour, Elizabeth Flock presented a story about women in the rural West Virginia town of Buckhannon who became active by staging protests and holding meetings to present their counter point-of-view to the local majority. "Most of [the women] told me the only political participation they had up until this point was voting. Most of them had never held a protest sign. This was very new to them." Flock said. The women were encountering "push-back" in sometimes intense ways.

What if the political climate is nagging you to become more active but you don't want to stage protests or carry signs? Maybe you want to make a difference in a less confrontational and constructive way. There is a new local outlet for engagement.

Two years ago, a local group of women from Polk and Burnett Counties, began a journey to establish a new League of Women Voters in the St. Croix Valley. The effort mirrors what has been happening around the country. In a Washington Post interview by Colby Itkowitz, LWV National President Chris Carson declared, "There is a level of interest in the league that I have never seen in 33 years of involvement with the organization."

Itkowitz wrote: "Carson thinks people are drawn to the league because it is nonpartisan--it doesn't weigh in on party politics, but it does take a stand on issues that effect voters. Its main purpose, though, is to engender the kind of active citizenship that is in sudden demand since the election. It encourages voting and champions civil discourse, putting out voting guides based on issues in communities and sponsoring political debates at all levels of government."

The local league has made great strides in doing these important voter empowering functions. At the recent annual meeting, Chair Marilyn Chesnik presented a list of local league "firsts" that included: first voter clinic, first fair booth, first candidate forum, first candidate meet & greet, and more.

Become more politically engaged by joining the League of Women Voters Upper St. Croix Valley. Support the league financially, sign up to help at an event, or join a committee. We welcome everyone.


Join a Committee

The one item on every "To Do List" at the February Board Retreat was "Form a Committee! We know that you want to help and we are ready to take the next step of engaging our membership in the important work of the League.

At the April Annual Meeting, the board introduced five committees:

Nominating Committee
Chair: Mary Bjorgaard

Budget Committee
Chair: Kathy Kienholz

Communications Committee
Chair: Jean Van Tatenhove

Membership Committee
Chair: Marceleen Mosher

Program and Voter Services Committee
Chair: Marilyn Chesnik

Committees will meet independently and report to the board. Contact the committee chair for more information about committee work or let us know how you can help.


First Educational Program a Big Success

Thank you to Patti Hurd and Luck Community Education for organizing our League's first educational program on the Electoral College and Redistricting, both timely and important topics. Mark Conrad, Senior Lecturer from UW Barron County spoke to both topics taking our many questions. We could have used the full 2 hours on each, there is so much to learn. 


38 participate in Grantsburg Village Board Forum!

The Grantburg Friends of the Library laid a wonderful spread for the 38 folks that participated in the 2017 LWV USCV Candidate Forum for 3 contested Village of Grantsburg Board of Trustees seats and for the contested President of the Board position. A cordial atmosphere was created at once as the room filled.

Library Director Kristina Kelly-Johnson welcomed the crowd to the Bruce E Erickson Learning Center of the Grantsburg Public Library. Marilyn Chesnik welcomed all on behalf of the LWV Upper Saint Croix Valley and talked about the two and a half years that went into getting our chapter off the ground and to this event. Judge Ken Kutz, the evening's moderator, followed to explain the rules that would govern the forum.

Each candidate stood in turn and spoke about themselves, their vision for the Village and what they hope to accomplish in their tenure on the board. Questions followed both pre-submitted and directly from the audience. Each candidate spoke to the questions in turn.

Here are some photos of the evening. Click on the photos to get a larger view.

Library Director Kristina Kelly-Johnson welcomes the crowd

Marilyn Chesnk talks about our chapter of the Wisconsin LWV

Judge Ken Kutz explains the rules of the forum

Candidates spoke in turn about themselves and their vision 

An enjoyable evening learning about Village government issues


55 people attend the Polk/Burnett Judicial Candidate Meet and Greet

Some 55 individuals attended the LWVUSCV sponsored candidate meet and greet on Tuesday, March 14 at the Luck Senior Center where we enjoyed dessert and got a chance to mingle with the candidates before each had an opportunity to present 15 minutes on their candidacy.

Jeff Anderson, Branch 2 Polk County Circuit Court Judge, unopposed, got the honor of speaking first. He gave us a rundown of the issues confronting the circuit court in Polk County and the challengers that lay ahead. 

We heard from Burnett County candidates David Grindell and Melissa R. Mogen and Polk County candidates Malia Theresa Malone and Daniel J Tolan. We learned about the backgrounds of each of the candidates, what issues are nearest their hearts and the challenges that each sees in the position they seek. 

Here are a few photos of the evening's event.

Thank you to Mary Bjorgaard for a well planned and executed event.  And all those who helped pull it off!! Another successful event under our belts!!


A work in Progress--Work Plan for 2017

Below is the result of the Board Retreat on February 25 2017

League of Women Voters - Upper St. Croix Valley Making Democracy Work!
2017 Work Plan
Organization Development | Civic Education | Communication | Engagement

Organizational Development – Create an administrative structure to sustain the LWV-USCV
Define Roles & Responsibilities of Leadership
  1. Define roles and responsibilities of:
    1. Board member roles
    2. Committee chairs
    3. Members (associate members, supporters)
  2. Form Committees
    1. Nominating
    2. Budget
    3. Communication
    4. Membership
    5. Program
Future agenda items for board meetings:
  • Roles & Responsibilities
  • Define communication process?
  • Prepare write-ups of committee descriptions for Annual Meeting.
  • (2017 Elections for Chair, Secretary, Media Position and one Board Member at Large.)
Board members
Budget Committee
  1. Form budget committee
    1. Create 2017 budget
  2. Define Sustainable Fund Development

Board members
Develop Calendar
  1. Add the following dates to the calendar
    1. 6 Board meetings (3rd Tuesday of month)
    2. 1 Annual meetings (April 30)
    3. 4 Member meetings
    4. Misc Events to be added as scheduled
  • Set the 2017 calendar at next meeting
  • Review calendar at all the meetings
  • Set process
    • Who updates it
  • Where do we share it
Board members
Communication – Enhance visibility through diverse forms of communication
Form communication committee
  1. Prepare committee description for Annual Meeting
  2. Recruit members
  • 1 Board member
  • Define committee roles
  • Workplan
Evaluate Communication Technology (tools)
  1. Website (blogsite)
  2. email
  3. Facebook Page???
  4. Google Drive (share documents)
  5. Email
  6. Listserv

Communication Committee
Engage in External Communication (outside LWV-USCV)
  1. Utilize Community Outreach Channels
    1. Press Releases
    2. PSAs
    3. Radio spots (“Live Chat” in Amery, WOJB, 93.1, WPR, Red Rock), Pine City
    4. Cable TV
    5. Update our blogspot regularly
    6. post flyers, posters, etc.
  • Create media contact list

Engage in Regular Communication Internal (members and board)
  1. Start a newsletter?
  2. Regularly post information to our website
  3. Share news on our Facebook page
  4. Listserv
  • Create email list, google drive? Make sure members can view information.
  • Board minutes to all?

Engagement – Enhance participation in the mission of LWV-USCV through increased membership & active involvement

Form Membership Committee
  1. Prepare committee description for Annual Meeting
  2. Recruit members
  • 1 Board member
  • Define committee roles
  • workplan
Evaluate membership recruitment process
  • Recommend tactics
Membership Committee
Increase Membership Numbers & Diversity
  1. Communicate what membership means
  2. Increase diversity
    1. Youth
    2. Republicans
    3. Minority groups

Engage with Members
  1. New Members
    1. Provide new member welcome packet
    2. Host new member meetings
    3. Assign a mentor or buddy
  2. Member Retention & Member Involvement
  3. Create clear volunteer opportunities
  4. Have clear tasks for volunteers to sign up for
  5. Agenda item on all member meeting to discuss member satisfaction

Host Regular Meetings
  1. Plan annual meeting as a celebration of year’s accomplishments
  2. Hold member meetings (fun)
  3. Hold regular “Unit” program meetings (pick a theme, i.e. ed forums)

Share LWV Info (with all members)
  1. Share workplan
  2. Share meeting minutes
  3. Share volunteer opportunities

Civic Education – Provide civic education in the Upper St. Croix Valley
Form Program Committee
  1. Prepare committee description for Annual Meeting
  2. Recruit members
  • 1 Board member
  • Define committee roles
  • workplan
Plan and evaluate educational opportunity plan
  1. Host Educational Forums
  2. Get out the Vote
  3. Host Voter Registration
  4. Clinic Host Candidate Forums

Engage Youth
  1. Voter registration clinic
  2. Youth member on the board
    1. Form communication

Create/Participate Annual Event Calendar
  1. Committee members communicate with Board about scheduling