We hope that you are all doing well and beginning enjoying family and friends in person. We look forward to begin meeting in-person this year. This newsletter includes information on the Annual Meeting, a report on the Program on Redistricting, an update on the work with police and mental health, and information from LWVMN and LWVUS, as well as a membership renewal reminder. Please know that we welcome your support for the League and would be happy to involve you in any of the activities that we are organizing this upcoming year. Just reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Annual Meeting was held via Zoom on June 14. At that meeting we elected a new Board including the following positions:
Co-Presidents: Pat Johnson and Adrienne Falcon are both returning for one more year as Co-presidents.
Treasurer: Paul Zorn
Co-secretaries: Julia Tassava is returning as co-secretary and is joined by Thea Hanson, our new Youth on Board member.
Voter services: John Haberman and Amelia Arnold are both returning to work on Voter Services.
Advocacy: Helene Haapala is returning with a focus on police and mental health and more.
At-large: Joan Higginbotham is returning and Anna Kuxhausen and Alyssa Melby are joining the Board as At-large members. Alyssa will also serve as Liaison with St. Olaf.
Membership: We are still looking to fill this position and committee. Please let us know if you are interested.
The following positions are not officially on the board but will help us in our organizational efforts to develop liaisons with various groups: Liaison with advocacy and environmental efforts, Kathleen Doran-Norton; and Liaison with Carleton, Sinda Nichols.
Thanks to outgoing members:
- Melanie Freeze has taken a new job that takes her and her family to Arlington, VA. We will miss her and thank her for her wonderful work in Voter Services. She brought new life to the position.
- Sophie Rogers, who just graduated from Carleton College, worked on the Board for four years. She brought fresh insight to the work of the Board and was a consistent bridge to Carleton.
- Amy Smith helped us get our online presence in better order and did fantastic design work for the League. Her energy and enthusiasm were without measure.
- Serena Zabin has taken on national responsibilities in her academic field of history. She brought new life and insight to the history of the Northfield League. She also helped with keeping Membership going. We look forward to her return to the Board sometime in the future.
- Margo Chihade has graduated from NFHS and will be starting at Haverford College in the fall. She has served as co-secretary and worked on the Police and Mental Health Advocacy Committee
We will feature the new members in future newsletters.
Redistricting was the topic for the LWV Northfield/Cannon Falls annual meeting program on June 14. It was a timely subject since the process of redrawing state congressional and legislative districts based on the 2020 census results will be carried out in the coming year. Speakers were Denise Anderson, Rice County Elections Director, who focused on the impact of changing district lines on local communities; Peter Wattson, a veteran of earlier redistricting processes, who supports changes in the process to make it more efficient and Paul Huffman, LWVMN’s redistricting coordinator, who provided suggestions for local LWV activities that can help to educate communities on the redistricting process. Here is the link to the Zoom session: https://minnstate.zoom.us/rec/play/jOTo5FZl-L0j9c_6R9xxV48u7p54clOu5elQs9cvk7lAVwue4rsW665OpIInembpy6bOEJRaHu9biFlE.MniUtivx6rb-qXc0
Anderson pointed to the district lines on the Rice County map and stressed the importance of drawing lines that reflected the boundaries of communities, the common interests of residents, as well as having equal numbers of residents in each district. Taking these factors into consideration when drawing the lines makes the process a balancing act. Anderson said that most of the Rice County districts meet the requirements for similar size and community boundaries and didn’t see any need for significant changes in district lines following the 2020 census.
Wattson said that in the years he has observed the process, the inability of the legislature to enact a redistricting plan has always led to a court case to establish the new district lines. He is supporting a proposal that would shift the process to the courts immediately, taking it out of the hands of the legislature, and he is a part of a lawsuit to that effect.
Huffman suggested that LWV members be observers of the process, and work to ensure that the lines reflect the principles of compactness, contiguity, and not separating communities of interest .
Police and Mental Health and Connection with Rice County
The police reform and mental health advocacy group continues to do their work intergenerationally. In June we presented at the League of Women Voters statewide council and enjoyed sharing our approach to our work as well as our efforts over the past year to an audience of 35. It was exciting to hear about the interest from other League’s in the state and motivates us to figure out ways to connect with other areas and what they are doing. For example there is much that we can learn from Dakota County and as part of Northfield is in Dakota County, this will be an ideal way for our Local League to work on city-wide efforts.
We are also pleased to share that the city has made available the new police policies on their website: https://ci.northfield.mn.us/1441/Police-Policies
This is a big change from last summer when we had to do two Freedom of Information Requests to obtain a copy and then purchase it for the cost of printing. We are now in the process of reviewing the new policies and plan to meet soon with Chief Elliott to discuss changes and the impact of the last legislative session on police policies and procedures.
As a result of our work on police policies and the survey that we conducted last year, we have come to realize that a particular challenging component of police practice is crisis mental health response. As a result we have met with Rice County, HCI, and others to discuss models and ways to best meet the needs of individuals in crisis. We have discovered resources out there and now are trying to figure out the best way to raise knowledge about them. It is clear that the mental health crisis is the next public health challenge facing our nation. We will be including this work along with police reform options when we meet with Rice County Board and department representations late in the summer or in the fall.
If you are interested in this work, please contact Helene Haapala (email@example.com)
News from LWVMN:
Wattson v. Simon seeks to ensure that Minnesota’s electoral maps are drawn fairly
The League of Women Voters of Minnesota has filed a motion to join as co-plaintiffs in Wattson v. Simon, asking the Minnesota Supreme Court to appoint a special redistricting panel to prepare for the state’s upcoming redistricting process.
“Historically, Minnesota legislatures have not been able to draw fair maps without the courts getting involved,” said Michelle Witte, executive director of the League of Women Voters of Minnesota. “We are asking our state Supreme Court to ensure maps are fair, and represent the significant demographic changes we have seen in our state within the last decade.”
News from LWVUS
LWVUS has announced a new programmatic focus: Women Power Democracy.
Women Power Democracy is four-pronged approach to building trust in our elections, growing our electorate, creating fair voter access, and ensuring community districting reflects our population.
Its components are:
- Democracy Truth Project: Countering mis- and disinformation in our government and advancing public understanding of the democratic process;
- Expand the Franchise: Increasing voter participation, with a focus on underrepresented populations and low-propensity voters;
- Democracy Defense Fund: Protecting voting rights and advancing a more equitable democracy through advocacy and voter protection efforts; and
- People Powered Fair Maps™: Leading with advocacy, public education, and organizing to create transparent, people-powered electoral maps and eliminate gerrymandering during 2021 redistricting.
This work will take shape through League activations, trainings, and workshops to support the public and position the League as a continued leader in these areas ahead of the midterm elections next year.
In August, the Board will hold a planning retreat for the upcoming year. We hope to hold a Books and Brews in late August or early September and do a Fall Launching Meeting as well. Watch for updates! It will be so good to meet each other in person.
We remind you that we have changed our calendar of dues. Membership is now yearly from January 1 to December 31. Please remember to pay your dues. If you’d prefer to pay by check, make it out to:
League of Women Voters Northfield – Cannon Falls
Addressed to: LWV Treasurer, P.O. Box 527, Northfield MN 55057.
We wish you all good health and hope to see you all in person in the coming year.
Adrienne Falcon and Pat Johnson, co-presidents