I sat down and talked with Debbie Royalty, president of the League of Women Voters of Jefferson County WV to discuss the ways in which the League serves Jefferson County and the surrounding community.
The League is an important resource in the Eastern Panhandle, holding public informational forums concerning mental health, substance abuse and education. The League works diligently to involve local citizens in issues that directly impact their community. Two of the their most recent events included a general budget forum and a forum on the upcoming December 12th Special Election in Jefferson County, in which Jefferson County Schools could stand to lose $26,000,000.00 should the excess levy fail. These meetings are invaluable to their attendees as they often serve to educate and dispel gossip or misinformation spread about the given topic.
The League also holds consensus meetings with its members after the informational forums to discuss their official position(s) to share with the community. Ms. Royalty notes that these consensus meetings are all backed by factual, evidence-based information and not personal politics. Additionally, the League is also supportive of local nonprofit organizations, and every year they present a community service award to a select organization as voted upon by the members.
Ms. Royalty reports receiving criticism that the League is partisan due to the community issues on which they choose to focus; however, Ms. Royalty refuted this sentiment and discussed the mission of the League of Women Voters.
“We focus on passionately supporting voter registration and voter turnout. We advocate for an informed public and are passionate about transparency in public agencies. We neither support nor oppose any political party or candidate.”
In keeping with their goal to promote informed and involved citizen participation in government, the League is a key sponsor of candidate debates and forums held locally during election years. All candidates are invited and encouraged to participate.
Ms. Royalty stated there are two ways people in the community can contribute to the League of Women Voters. Community members can join the League for $45.00 a year. Membership dues are used for lobbying efforts on both the state and national level. She urges local residents to participate in League sponsored events to broaden discussions and perspectives, noting: “[Our forums] inform and provoke the community; promote discussion and participation in our democracy.”
Board meetings are held once a month with member socials every other month. Forums are held on a semi-regular basis. An events calendar can be found on the League of Women Voters of Jefferson County WV website. You can also visit their Facebook for event information.
For more information on the national organization, check their website:
(Photo Credit: Nicholas Trietsch)