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League of Women Voters urges residents to vote, participate in upcoming forums

School board candidates, statewide ballot issues to be presented
The League of Women Voters of La Plata County will host a series of forums this month for school board candidates and statewide ballot issues. (Durango Herald file)

Realizing that a large in-person meeting might not be the best way to reach members this month, the League of Women Voters of La Plata County is hitting the road.

Meininger

On Monday morning, Laurie Meininger, president of the local league, met outside the Pine River Library with six league members and members of local boards to discuss upcoming events and matters of interest to local voters.

Meininger joked that she was preaching to the choir, but she wants to urge everyone to vote Nov. 2.

“Your vote is your voice,” she said. “Use it!”

This year’s ballot is a short one, with only school board elections and statewide ballot issues. But league members attending the meeting pointed out that local school board elections have a far greater impact on local families than almost any other election.

Ballots were printed in Phoenix and will be trucked to Albuquerque on Friday. From there, they will be mailed to La Plata County voters, said Clerk and Recorder Tiffany Lee. Because Monday is Columbus Day, voters are expected to receive ballots Tuesday, Oct. 12, she said.

The mail-in ballots should be sent back later than Monday, Oct. 26, otherwise, voters should use one of several drop-box locations up until 7 p.m. Nov. 2.

Meininger, a retired diplomat, served as an international election observer in the Democratic Republic of Congo, where she met a group of women who had walked seven hours through the night, then waited in line most of the next day, to cast their first ballots.

“We take for granted our ability to vote,” she said.

League volunteers have been staffing a table at the Durango Farmers Market this autumn to provide election information and show examples of ballots to potential voters.

For the next two weeks, the league will host candidate forums for the local school board elections via Zoom.

David Black, a Bayfield Town Board trustee attending the meeting, lamented that the Bayfield school board election has only four candidates running for two seats on the board.

“We want people to step up and serve their community,” he said.

Bayfield’s municipal elections will take place next spring, and he encourages more town residents to consider running. Several past elections for Town Board haven’t been held in recent years because only one or two people ran for the one or two open seats on the board.

Access to participation and harnessing the next generation of leaders is a larger issue the league is facing, Meininger said.

“How do we reach out to those who have not felt included?” she asked, noting that numerous area residents believe the political system doesn’t work for them.

Carol Blatnick, a former trustee on both the Bayfield Town Board and Bayfield school board, noted the lack of male members now serving on both boards. There are two men on Town Board, and only one serving on the school board.

“We need representation from everyone,” she said.

The league was founded 101 years ago, in large part to educate women about their voting rights, which were not confirmed nationwide until the 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution was passed in 1920.

Contrary to its historical name, the league is open to male members, and about 25% of the local group’s 143 members are men, Meininger said. There are 700 leagues nationwide, including 19 in Colorado.

The league is nonpartisan and does not advocate for parties or individual candidates. It can issue positions for action on public policy issues.

While the local league has a large membership base, like many service and public advocacy organizations, the league needs more volunteers to continue its work. Current needs include:

  • A Vote 411 coordinator.
  • A treasurer.
  • Website and social media management.
  • Volunteers to assist with candidate forums.
  • Volunteers for action and advocacy commissions.
  • Membership coordinators.

More information about the local league, as well as membership forms, are available on its website at www.lwvlaplata.org.

Upcoming candidate forums

Ignacio School Board Candidate Forum, via Zoom

6 to 7 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 12.

To join the Zoom webinar, use https://us02web.zoom.us/j/85435174271.

There will be a viewing of the Zoom meeting in the Ignacio High School auditorium for residents who don’t have internet access. Also, the forum will be broadcast on KSUT Tribal Radio at 91.3 FM in Ignacio and streaming live at www.tribalradio.org.

The forum also will be broadcast on Four Corners Broadcasting at 930 AM and 97.3 FM.

Durango School Board Candidate Forum, via Zoom

6 to 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 14.

To join the Zoom webinar, use https://us02web.zoom.us/j/89934356014.

Statewide Ballot Issue Forum

6:30 to 8 p.m. Monday, Oct. 18, in-person at Durango Public Library.

The league plans to record the forum for voters to view later on the league’s website. Also, a livestream video is planned.

Bayfield School Board Candidate Forum, via Zoom

6 to 7 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 19.

To join the Zoom webinar, use https://us02web.zoom.us/j/87851968233.

To submit questions for the school board candidate forums, visit lwvlaplata.org, click on the events link, then the link for each forum.

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