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Monthly newsletter for members of the League of Women Voters Northfield - Cannon Falls

April, 2017 (March 31, 2017)

April, 2017 E-Catalyst

April 1, 2017
President’s letter

Dear Members and Friends:

Plans for the Healthcare Forum are moving swiftly, thanks to Judy Covey and David Emery.  Join us on April 20, 7:30 p.m. at St. John’s Lutheran Church to learn about the latest developments in health care and what they mean for Northfield. See more below.

We’re planning a fun and festive Annual Meeting. Note that the date for it has been changed from April 20 to June 1. So—add Thursday, June 1 to your calendar. The usual packet of information will be e-mailed to members about 10 days before the gathering. In addition, you will find our proposal for restructuring leadership. Bonnie Jean will also lead us in some good old suffragette songs that are all too relevant today.

Look for more action from LWVNCF! As efforts to suppress voting rights continue under the guise of preventing voter fraud, as bills are introduced that allow state legislatures to determine their own legislative districts, and as money continues to influence politics and policy, the League can be more important than ever. Jan Mitchell’s letter to the editor, seen below, is an example of one way we can get information to the public. The upcoming healthcare forum is another.

And there’s more! Whether you can write letters or register voters or welcome attendees at a meeting, League needs your help. Soon we’ll begin gearing up to register voters and conduct voter service activities for the 2018 elections, including moderator training. There’s a brand-new Dakota County LWV that’s invited us to collaborate on a town hall. We are sending delegates to the LWVMN State Convention in Bloomington on April 28 and 29, which is a wonderful opportunity to learn and network with an amazing group of women and men.

And—we’re having a party on May 4. Look for details below!

See YOU at the healthcare forum!

Carry on…


President, League of Women Voters of Northfield and Cannon Falls

Healthcare forum—the event of the season!
  • The State of Healthcare in Northfield: What’s now, what’s next?
  • April 20, 7:30 pm
  • St. John’s Lutheran Church, 500 W. 3rd Street, Northfield, MN

As this newsletter goes to press, efforts to “repeal and replace” the national healthcare law have failed, but Congress may take it up once again. By April 20, we may know more. Whatever happens between now and then, our outstanding panel will bring us their expert knowledge of our local situation. Steve Underdahl, Charlie Mandile, Ashley Hodgson, and David Bly will examine the successes and challenges of healthcare in our community in a discussion moderated by Mary Carlsen.

This is an amazing opportunity to get accurate insights from local leaders. It’s also a great time to show guests what League does. Come—and bring a friend.


  1. Steve Underdahl: President and CEO of Northfield Hospital and Clinics. Steve came to Northfield from the Mayo Clinic Health System, Albert Lea and Austin, where he was VP of operations.  Prior to that Steve served as hospital administrator for the Albert Lea Hospital. Steve has a master’s degree in organizational leadership from Bethel College.
  2. Charlie Mandile: CEO of HealthFinders Collaborative. Charlie is a Carleton graduate and has a master’s in public health from the University of Minnesota. Charlie came to HealthFinders about 5 years ago and has significantly expanded the services provided by HFC, including opening an office in Faribault and receiving a large grant from the Medtronic Foundation.
  3. Ashley Hodgson: Assistant professor of economics at St. Olaf College. Ashley’s specialties are health care economics and behavioral economics. She does research on healthcare, Medicare, and public health. Ashley has a PhD from UC Berkeley.
  4. David Bly: DFL, fifth term in MN House of Representatives for District 20B (Northfield). David has the DFL lead on agricultural policy, but has taken an active role in state healthcare legislation. David is also very interested in social issues and has written a book on the topic.          


Mary Carlsen: Professor of social work and department chair at St. Olaf College.

Happy Hour (and a half)

Party, party!  Here’s your invitation to our next our Happy Hour—and a Half!  Invite friends and prospective League members. Don’t miss this fun get together.

League of Women Voters Northfield – Cannon Falls 

League Spring Social Hour (and 1/2)
Mary Carlsen’s House

1008 Juniper Avenue, Northfield
Thursday, May 4, 2017.  4:30 – 6:00 p.m.

Open to all – Members and Prospective Members!

Hi there.  It’s us … your hard-working local League.  Devoted to truth, justice and the American way.  

It’s springtime. Well, soon. That means time to socialize, talk, strategize. And reenergize. With us. Your local League.   

We want you, members and nonmembers, for an engaging happy hour (and a half) in a lovely home. Mary Carlsen’s home, to be precise. Thanks, Mary. For your lovely home.  

Please show up with yourself, with others, with friends, family, neighbors, kids, partners, puppies (kidding), anytime between 4:30 and 6:00 p.m. This is open to all.

This will be fun. We promise. No work. No speeches. No duties.  No buttons. No signs. Not this time. This time we need to talk, strategize and talk some more. And have fun.

Side note just in case you were wondering … this is not our annual meeting. That meeting is on June 1. Separate deal. Cool stuff happening then too. Just letting you know.

Who are we? We are the League of Women Voters of Northfield & Cannon Falls. We are your local League. We do good things … educate voters … organize candidate forums … get cool grants … have cool buttons and neat signs … invite smart speakers to town. We are you, your neighbors, your friends, your mom, your dad, your son, your daughter. We come in all ages and all shapes and sizes. We are men too. This is your local league. Fighting the good fight.   

Want to read our full mission statement? You can at Summarized in short form: educate yourself; play nice; be informed when you vote.

Why are you getting this invitation? You are a member. Or, we hope you might be interested in us. We are interested in you.  

Questions? Please ask them. We’re including our emails below to make it easy.

Sincerely and proudly,

Bonnie Jean Flom
Membership Committee Chair                     

Mary Hahn
Membership Committee Member                                                                             

Mary Carlsen
Membership Committee Member

Janet Petri
Membership Committee Member

The results of our two open Board and member meetings

The Board invited all members to participate in meetings February 20 and March 20 to discuss our League’s status and next steps. Based on responses, the Board is proposing a new structure with a lean executive board and flexible committees as a way to provide better opportunities for more participation by members. Focus will be on core League issues: preserving democracy and voting rights. The packet sent out 10 days before the rescheduled Annual Meeting, June 1, will clarify these proposals. Please contact a Board member if you are interested in learning more.

Ideas and support have been and are most welcome. Margit Johnson drafted the letter sent to members. Jane McWilliams and Kathleen Doran Norton are ever ready to do whatever needs to be done. Janet Mitchell, Adrienne Falcon and Eve Webster helped Judy Covey and Allene advance and clarify the proposed new Board and committee/ task force structure. The membership committee (Bonnie Jean Flom, Mary Carlsen, Mary Hahn and Janet Petri) also contributed. Ricky Peterson edited communications for Bonnie Jean or Nate White to e-mail to you all. 

Our immediate actions:

  • Publicize the healthcare forum, including letters to the editors of local papers.
  • Send a letter to those editors about redistricting
  • Schedule a new and prospective member event.
  • Reschedule the annual meeting as primarily a networking opportunity with attention to restructuring a leaner League.
  • Prioritize a small set of local events and collaborate with LWVMN action committees.
2017 Minnesota State League Convention

Do you wonder how League can accomplish what is needed? Here’s your chance to help prioritize actions and find solutions. Join fellow Leaguers at the state Convention next month. It’s inspiring and fun.

Planning Ahead - 2017 State Convention

This year's bi-annual convention is themed Planning Ahead! Convention 2017 activities will be held Friday–Saturday, April 28–29, 2017, at Normandale Community College, 9700 France Ave South, Bloomington, MN.

Our local League can send up to six delegates. The convention is an excellent opportunity to learn about the League of Women Voters and make contact with other Leagues in the state. If YOU are interested in attending, please contact Allene as soon as possible. Your $100 registration fee will be covered.

Allene Moesler  (507 263-0726) or e-mail

Because our voices matter more than ever.

LWV Letter to the Editor concerning REDISTRICTING

by Jan Mitchell on behalf of our League

The letter below is authorized by our local Board on the basis of state and national League positions.

Was the November election “rigged”? Sadly, yes. The typical state legislature is able to configure Congressional districts so that in effect, the voters don't choose policy makers; policy makers choose voters. “Gerrymandering” has historically worked to disenfranchise minority voters and to extend the incumbency of the majority party. The census, conducted every ten years, provides the raw numbers, and while districts must be nearly equal in population, the district boundaries can be drawn to suit the legislators.

Here in Minnesota, the legislature’s plan is usually challenged in court, and consequently the process is lengthy and costly. Iowa has a better approach. The Iowa legislature has established a non-partisan commission to develop a plan that is simply accepted or rejected by the legislature. If it is rejected, the commission makes another plan. If it gets to a third plan that the legislature still rejects, the commission can select the plan it prefers. The governor can veto the plan. But experience suggests this process works smoothly and satisfies most people. The commission comprises five people, four chosen by the Iowa Senate and House majority and minority leaders, and the fifth selected by the other four. The districts must conform as closely as possible to the ideal: equal populations, in compact, contiguous districts following city and county boundaries.  The planners cannot factor voter registration or participation, nor the residence of incumbent politicians.

When Congress has a large number of “safe” seats, those who hold them can become deaf to the concerns of their constituents, and unwilling to compromise. Gridlock is all too familiar in this era of polarization. Making districts more competitive makes government more responsive. Urge your state legislators to support a new approach to redistricting in Minnesota by supporting HF 246  and SF 370, which establish a commission to oversee redistricting.

Janet Mitchell, for the Northfield/ Cannon Falls League of Women Voters

506 E. 7th Street
Northfield, MN

Loss of longtime Leaguer Elaine Thurston

Excerpted from a Northfield News article

Elaine Andersen Thurston 

One of our League heroines, Elaine Andersen Thurston, died in St. Paul on February 26, 2017. She was 90. Born July 15, 1926 in St. Paul, she was the only child of Gunnar Andersen and Agnes Hillestad. She graduated from St. Olaf College in Northfield in 1948 and did graduate work at Columbia University and the University of Minnesota. She married her husband, Robert F. Thurston, in 1953, and they made their home in Spring Park, Minnesota, where their children were born. Elaine was active in the League of Women Voters of Westonka.

In 1966, the family moved to Northfield where Elaine joined forces with others to address issues ranging from poverty in Rice County to opposition to the war in Vietnam. Elaine was active in the League of Women Voters and many other community organizations. She also served on the Northfield City Council and the Northfield Charter Commission. Services will be held on Saturday, May 27, 2017 at 11:00 a.m. at the Northfield United Methodist Church. 

What about national League?

Our national League is taking action on many fronts. All actions are based on the carefully researched and considered positions the League has arrived at by consensus. You can learn much more at and sign up to get news in your email. Here are a few highlights:


LWVUS participated actively in opposition to the congressional healthcare plan, which would have revoked coverage for millions of Americans while dangerously raising costs for millions more.


League activists are leading the fight on redistricting reform nationwide, speaking out to improve voting access and holding elected leaders accountable when they try to restrict the vote.

Fair Elections

The League continues to protect voter access. Leagues are working to reduce barriers to voting and increase voter turnout in Hawaii, fighting voter ID laws in Iowa and Missouri, and facing extreme racial gerrymandering in Texas.

LWVUS opposes proposed cuts to national oversight of state election administration. One step that has been proposed is eliminating the Election Assistance Commission (EAC), which is the only federal entity devoted exclusively to improving election administration on a bi-partisan basis.

“Controversies about the accuracy, conduct and participation in American elections are on the rise,” Carson said, “and abolishing the EAC is exactly the wrong thing to do. This is not the time to sweep problems under the rug.”

Congratulations to the NEW League of Women Voters of Dakota County

There’s a new League in our area! At our last LWVNCF Board meeting, we voted to support this brand-new neighbor League with a nominal donation. We look forward to many future collaborations.

Here’s a letter from co-founder Paula Stein Clark:

LWV Dakota County was officially recognized by the LWV Minnesota board of directors on February 28, 2017. We are excited to get going in an official way! Jamie Fitzke is my co-lead in our group. Today we count 52 members with another 62 on our communications list.

We welcome your thoughts and ideas on how we can work together to advance the work of LWV!


Paula Stein Clark
LWV Dakota County
Cell: (763) 458-3476

Action by Dakota County League

This new League is helping to organize an Earth Day event on April 18.

Earth Day - Pipelines 

6:30-9:00 PM, Tuesday, April 18 at St. Stephen’s Lutheran Church, 8400 France Ave, Bloomington

Drums and singing by Robert Pilot; a talk by Eryn Wise, a Native American Water Protector activist; a talk by Whachapi Otto, a Native American storyteller; Alan Anderson on climate change and pipelines; and Kathy Hollander of MN350, on action.

Sponsored by the Bloomington and Dakota County Leagues of Women Voters.

Contact Allene for a ride or more information:

LWVNCF Calendar

April 17

  • LWV Board Meeting (All members are welcome.)
  • 7:00 p.m.
  • Friends Meetinghouse, 512 Washington St

April 18

  • Bloomington Earth Day event sponsored by LWV Dakota County and Bloomington
  • Impact on the Environment, Tribal Rights and Action
  • 6:30–9:00 PM
  • St. Stephen’s Lutheran Church, 8400 France Ave, Bloomington

April 20

  • LWV NCF Healthcare Forum
  • 7:30 p.m.
  • St. John’s Lutheran Church, 500 W 3rd St, Northfield, MN

April 22

  • Northfield Earth Day Celebration
  • 10 a.m.–7:30 p.m.
  • United Church of Christ, 300 Union St and Weitz Center (across the street), Carleton College

April 28–29

  • LWV MN Convention 2017
  • Normandale Community College, 9700 France Ave S, Bloomington, MN
May 4
  • Gathering to welcome new and prospective members
  • 4:30–6:00 p.m.
  • Mary Carlsen’s home. 1008 Juniper Ave. W, Northfield 

May 27

  • Memorial service for Elaine Thurston
  • 11:00 a.m.
  • Northfield United Methodist Church, 1401 Maple St

June 1

  • ANNUAL MEETING (Please note this event has been rescheduled!)
  • Village on the Cannon community room
  • 301 7th St, Northfield