The League of Women Voters of The Cape Cod Area sponsors or co-sponsors several forums a year. Most of our forums are recorded and can by viewed on our YouTube Channel
ACLUM "Know Your Sheriff" Forum
The presentation of the ACLU Massachusetts “Know Your Sheriff” voter education forum was organized by the MLK Action Team (of the Nauset Interfaith Association) and LWVCCA. Organizers were Karen Boujoukos and Jeanne Morrison.
The webinar was held the evening of May 24th.
The Cape Media Center hosted the evening event and the Cape Cod Times was the Media sponsor.
The ACLU presenters were Olivia Santoro and Javier Luengo-Garrido.
There are 14 Sheriff Departments in the Commonwealth, one for each county. Sheriff elections are every 6 years and they are accountable only to the voters.
There is no higher office or authority to oversee the sheriff departments. In the 2016 election only 4 of the incumbent sheriffs had challengers. In the last election, over 670,000 ballots left the sheriff selection blank.
Though 33% of people the ACLU polled thought that job responsibilities of the sheriff were similar to the role of police officers, that is actually not the case. The sheriff’s primary responsibility is the welfare of those incarcerated in the county jail and includes overseeing their medical concerns, educational programming and preparation for reentry into society when they have completed their sentence. The Sheriff also controls prisoners access to visitors and their attorneys, telephone access to families and its costs, and access to voting.
There is currently a bill in the state legislature to address the current practice of some county jails of charging exorbitant prices for prisoner telephone calls. The 2021 budget for the Barnstable Sheriff’s Department was $32,685,210. The budget for the much smaller Duke’s County is $3,859,939. The current Barnstable Sheriff is retiring this year and there are two declared candidates running to replace him.
There was a lively discussion and Q&A session where voters asked questions related to accountability and responsibilities. Participants requested that a candidates forum be held before the election. The program was interpreted live in Spanish and a representative of the Brazilian community attended the forum and will be translating the recording to Portuguese for members of the Cape’s Portuguese speaking community. There is also a plan for the Cape Verdean Museum and Cultural Center to host a viewing and discussion of the forum in their community. Both of these groups will be doing outreach with an emphasis on voting and both of these events will be accompanied by voter services. A recording of the session will be posted on our YouTube channel, FB and website.
A recording of the forum is available on the LWVCCA YouTube channel at this link:
This program, plus the What a Difference a DA Makes program, are important programs because of the upcoming DA and sheriff elections. LWVCCA is the first organization to present this webinar, at the request of the ACLU.
Recent forums on our YouTube Channel include:
“What a Difference a D.A. Makes” (WADADAM)
On January 26, ACLU Massachusetts presented its public education webinar “What a Difference a D.A. Makes” (WADADAM).
- League of Women Voters Martha’s Vineyard
- NAACP Cape Cod
- NAACP Martha’s Vineyard
- MLK Action Team, of the Nauset Interfaith Association, and
- Cape Cod Coalition for Safe Communities.
This program is intended to educate voters about some important facts about their District Attorney. Did you know that:
- The DA is an elected official
- Over 72% of DA elections are uncontested
- The DA is answerable only to the voters:
- DAs have a very wide range of discretion in:
- Whether a suspect is charged
- What charges are brought
- Setting bail
- Confiscating property – even prior to a conviction
- What sentence to recommend
- Whether a suspect can be offered an alternative to criminal charges – i.e., counseling, etc.
- Whether plea-bargaining will be offered
This can have an enormous impact on a suspect’s life: they may be released without a charge, they may sit in jail for months awaiting trial, or they may be charged with a wide range of crimes, completely at the DA’s discretion. A conviction can affect their ability to get a job, or a drivers’ license, or to vote.
These decisions have historically been applied quite differently to different populations: Compared to the (mostly white) general population, Black and Latino people are charged and tried at a greater and receive longer sentences for the same or similar crimes.
The forum on January 26 was well-attended. It represents what we hope is just the beginning of a conversation leading up to next fall’s election of a DA for the Cape and Islands – the first contested election in a long while, and - with the retirement of the current DA - one that will result in the election of a new DA.
A recording of the webinar is available at
A report on the WADADAM forum appeared in the January 30 Cape Cod Times:
What a Differnce a D.A Makes virtual forum
Two recent articles about the election, and about the candidates:
Meet Your State Legislators Part II
Thursday, April 15, 2021
from 9:00 AM - 10:30 AM
This session is the second in a series with the members of the Cape Delegation of State Legislators. The Cape Women’s Coalition and The League of Women Voters of the Cape Cod Area will co- present a zoom roundtable discussion with Senator Susan Moran, Representatives Kip Diggs and Steven Xiarhos, moderated by Dean of the Cape Legislative Delegation, State Representative Sarah Peake.
The LWVCCA Health Committee held this forum as an introduction for Cape Cod family, friends, community members, and health professionals to understand the mental health needs of older adults and people of color whose issues may present differently from other populations., and know where and how to seek support to prevent suicide.
On March 3 LWVCCA held a forum, "Keys to Success for Effective School Committees", designed to inform prospective candidates for school committee and community members who would like their communities to be well served by effective school committees.
Two forums: "Racism on Cape Cod"
Six members of the Cape Cod Community help us learn about the experience of racism on Cape Cod and how it affects people of color in the community. They share their perspectives and experiences and inform us about work that is being done through their organizations to address racism. We explore what we can do as a community to counter racism on the Cape.
To delve deeper into the discussion of response strategies and solutions we welcome our panelists from the December program back for this Part II discussion that focusing more on solutions. Panelists discuss actions that their organizations are taking to address some of the problems associated with racism.
Our own League also takes part in the discussion by explaining some of the actions being taken by all levels of the League, including our own LWVCCA. We conclude the discussion by exploring how we can create a coalition of like-minded groups committed to the goal of eliminating racism.
LWVCCA and the Cape Cod Climate Change Collaborative (CCCCC) partnered on Jan. 23 to present a program on the climate crisis on Cape Cod and beyond.
LWVCCA forums at the Cape Media Center include:
Don't Just Stand There - Run!
If you are interested in learning more about how to run for office, please view this forum we recorded a few years ago entitled, "Don't Just Stand There, Run".
A panel of local Cape Cod public office holders discussed their experience of running and serving.
Why It’s So Important to Your Town, Your Neighborhood, Your Businesses
July 27, 2021 @ 6:30—8 pm
The LWVCCA is sponsoring a virtual forum on Massachusetts redistricting, with a special focus on Cape Cod’s largest town—Barnstable. Our forum is just in time to help residents of the Cape, and the town of Barnstable in particular, formulate testimony for the Special Joint Committee on Redistricting. Common areas of concern have focused on splitting towns between several state representatives, maintaining “communities of interest” together, and not diluting the voting power of various groups.
Join us to learn the basics of redistricting—the terminology, the time frame, rationale for drawing legislative maps, and to hear our speakers:
- Beth Huang, Drawing Democracy Coalition: What is Redistricting ? Why is it Important to voters?
- Ann Quirk, Barnstable Town Clerk: Why does the largest town on Cape Cod conduct a yearly Census? How are Barnstable’s current state representative district and voting precinct maps developed? Why is that important to you?
- Barnstable State Representatives: Timothy Whelan (District 1), Kip Diggs (District 2), and Steven Xiarhos (District 5)
On July 27th, join the forum at this link - registration will not be necessary:
The MA legislature's Special Joint Committee on Redistricting hearing for our own Congressional District, CD 9, will take place on Thursday, July 29 at 5 p.m. Details are here: https://malegislature.gov/Events/Hearings/Detail/3855
That page has two links--one for if you just want to listen, and the other for if you want to testify.
CANDIDATES’ FORUM For STATE REPRESENTATIVE To SERVE The FIRST BARNSTABLE DISTRICT
View the recording at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mKFfdXcCOBc
Barnstable County Sheriff and Cape and Islands District Attorney
For the first time in over 20 years, neither of the incumbents for Sheriff and District Attorney are running for re-election.
This presents voters with wide-open races to choose the directions these offices will take.
LWVCCA, the Massachusetts Women of Color Coalition, the Cape Cod Times, and the Cape Media Center sponsored a Candidates' debate for these contests, on October 12 at the Cape Cod Community College and online.
The Sheriff candidates appeared first - Link to the recording is below:
LWVCCA Candidate Forum for Barnstable County Sheriff 2022
The Distric Attorney Candidates followed - Link to that portion of the recording is below:
LWVCCA Candidate Forum for Cape and Islands District Attorney 2022