Make Democracy Work.
About the League
The League of Women Voters is a nonpartisan political organization encouraging informed and active participation in government. It influences public policy through education and advocacy.
Our Mission & Roles
The League of Women Voters of Westport is a nonpartisan membership organization which promotes informed and active participation in government--whether through registering voters or get out the vote, following key community issues, communicating with elected officials, and civics education for students and adults.
We never support or oppose any political party or candidate
We focus on empowering voters and educating the public on significant issues
We are advocates on legislation and government administration, based on our adopted positions on the issues
Our roles fall under two broad categories:
Voter Service Education: We present nonpartisan information about elections, the voting process, and public policy issues
Action/Advocacy: We are also nonpartisan, but, after study, we use our positions to advocate for or against particular policies in the public interest
We are a local league of the League of Women Voters of Connecticut and, at the national level, of the League of Women Voters, nonprofit 501(c)(4) corporation. Our voter service and education work may be funded through the League of Women Voters Education Fund, a nonprofit 501(c)((3) educational corporation.
Revisions approved by Board November 3, 2011
The bylaws of the League of Women Voters state that the League "shall not support or oppose any political party or candidate." This policy is essential to the strength, plausibility and effectiveness of the League in the community, the state and the nation. In order to uphold this responsibility, the League of Women Voters of Westport expects its Board members to adhere to the following guidelines to protect our nonpartisanship.
1. Public Office
A Board member may not run for, or hold, any partisan public office. A Board member may run for or hold a local non partisan elective office. In addition, a Board member may accept appointment to a local, state or national non partisan commission, board, committee, or task force after notifying the Board of such prospective service. In the event that the Board member will be serving as a representative of the Westport League in such appointive position, then the approval of the Board will be required.
2. Political Party Office
A Board member may not serve on the town committee of a political party. None of the Co-Presidents or Co-Vice Presidents for Voter Services may serve on the board of any organization affiliated with a political party.
3. Political Campaigns
The Westport League views participation in local caucuses, donations of political contributions and signing of petitions as an extension of the right to vote. However, Board members may not serve as a campaign manager or fundraising chair for any candidate for partisan elective office. In other campaign-related activities, such as appearances at fundraisers and campaign events, Board members should exercise discretion.
4. Social Media
A Board member should exercise discretion in using social media in connection with any political campaign, including but not limited to blogs and social networking sites, so as not to jeopardize the credibility of the League as a nonpartisan organization or impair the League's effectiveness in the community.
5. Family members
The political activities of a spouse or relative of a Board member should be considered separate and distinct from the activities of the Board member. However, the public prominence of the Board member and the sensitivity of her or his position on the Board should be taken into account when employing this policy.
A Board member should resign as soon as the Board has reached a decision that the circumstances make it unsuitable for her or him to serve on the Board.
There shall be consultation with the Board if any question arises under this policy. A majority of the Board shall resolve the question.
Visions, Beliefs and Intentions
The principles that guide our organization… Empowerment of Voters, Defending Democracy, Education & Advocacy
The goal of the League of Women Voters is to empower citizens to shape better communities worldwide.
The League of Women Voters of Westport is a nonpartisan membership organization which:
Builds citizen participation in the democratic process
Offers civics education to promote better understanding of government and to better enable people to seek positive solutions to public issues
Studies key community issues in an unbiased manner
Acts after study and member agreement to achieve solutions in the public interest on key community issues at all government levels
We believe in:
Respect for individuals
The value of diversity
The empowerment of the grassroots, both within the League and in communities
Act with trust, integrity and professionalism
Operate in an open and effective manner to meet the needs of those we serve, both members and the public
Take the initiative in seeking diversity in membership
Acknowledge our heritage as we seek our path to the future
National & Westport
The League of Women Voters was formed after the 19th Amendment was passed in 1920 by the National American Women's Suffrage Association, which had long worked for universal suffrage. From the beginning, LWV emphasized voter information and voter service.
LWV supported the League of Nations, the United Nations, child labor laws, and price controls and rationing in World War II. It provided a sustained effort in an "Individual Liberties Program" that opposed the goals of Senator Joseph McCarthy. LWV has also lobbied for Social Security, civil rights, and the food and drug acts.
Beginning in the 1970’s, LWV established positions on gun control, environmental protection, lobbied for voter registration reform, federal budget and deficit issues, as well as campaign finance reform, child care, and the right of privacy in reproductive choice.
The League of Women Voters of Westport was founded in 1949 by six women. In their research, they discovered that Westport had no charter for town government. A Westport Charter Revision Commission was established that included LWV members. The resulting charter was approved by a special act of the state legislature.
LWV Westport has developed positions, after study and consensus, relating to local land use and management, including preservation of inland and tidal wetland, as well as planning and zoning, town government and services, the budget process, and transportation. We continue active support for voters' rights and other priority state and national LWV positions.
WESTPORT LEAGUE PRESIDENTS
In her address to the National American Woman Suffrage Association's (NAWSA) 50th convention in St. Louis, Missouri, President Carrie Chapman Catt proposed the creation of a "league of women voters to finish the fight and aid in the reconstruction of the nation." Women Voters was formed within the NAWSA, composed of the organizations in the states where suffrage had already been attained.
The next year, on February 14, 1920 - six months before the 19th amendment to the Constitution was ratified - the League was formally organized in Chicago as the national League of Women Voters. Catt described the purpose of the new organization:
"The League of Women Voters is not to dissolve any present organization but to unite all existing organizations of women who believe in its principles. It is not to lure women from partisanship but to combine them in an effort for legislation which will protect coming movements, which we cannot even foretell, from suffering the untoward conditions which have hindered for so long the coming of equal suffrage. Are the women of the United States big enough to see their opportunity?"
Maud Wood Park became the first national president of the League and thus the first League leader to rise to the challenge. She had steered the women's suffrage amendment through Congress in the last two years before ratification and liked nothing better than legislative work. From the very beginning, however, it was apparent that the legislative goals of the League were not exclusively focused on women's issues and that citizen education aimed at all of the electorate was in order.
Since its inception, the League has helped millions of women and men become informed participants in government. In fact, the first league convention voted 69 separate items as statements of principle and recommendations for legislation. Among them were protection for women and children, right of working women, food supply and demand, social hygiene, the legal status of women, and American citizenship.The League's first major national legislative success was the passage of the Sheppard-Towner Act providing federal aid for maternal and child care programs. In the 1930's, League members worked successfully for enactment of the Social Security and Food and Drug Acts. Due at least in part to League efforts, legislation passed in 1938 and 1940 removed hundreds of federal jobs from the spoils system and placed them under Civil Service.
During the postwar period, the League helped lead the effort to establish the United Nations and to ensure U.S. Participation. The League was one of the first organizations in the country officially recognized by the United Nations as a non-governmental organization; it still maintains official observer status today.
See also League History from the League of Women Voters of the US.
Board of Directors
(2018 - 2019)
President: Esther Korovillas
Treasurer: Norman LaCroix
Secretary: Claudia Coplen
Past President: Becky Ruthven
Community Services: Esther Korovillas
Member Services/Engagement: Rachel Prior
Member Services/Events: Barbra Utting
Voter Services: Priscilla Long
Advisors: Celeste LaCroix & Sheila Ward
League of Women Voters of Westport
P.O. Box 285,
Westport, CT 06881-0285