MT League of Women Voters: Looking Back at 2018
At this time of the year, organizations, like people, often stop to consider all that has happened during the past 12 months. As we look back at 2018, we, the Monroe Township League of Women Voters (LWV), again like many of you, are amazed at how quickly the year has passed. And as in our personal lives, we have experienced both high points and disappointments.
In the high points category, we certainly include our 30th anniversary celebrations. We celebrated 30 years of public ser-vice in Monroe Township. Our celebration included 3 events scheduled throughout the year. We began with a brunch on May 20th at Forsgate Country Club which honored 4 township leaders: Ruth Banks; Irene Goldberg; John Katerba and Leslie Koppel. We are very appreciative of the support and participation of Senator Greenstein, Freeholder Ron Rios, Mayor Tamburro and the members of the Monroe Township Council and Board of Education in that event.
On July 8th, we moved outside for a fun afternoon at Dey Farm. We and our guest of all ages enjoyed picnic lunches, games, music and great conversations. Town Historian John Katerba led a guided tour to acquaint us with the history of the restored school house on the property. The third and final event in our celebration was a presentation on Sep-tember 25th featuring a dramatic portrayal of League founder, Carrie Chapman Catt by Pat Jordan from the Heritage Theatre Guild at the Monroe Township Library. In recognition of the fact that September 25th was National Voter Regis-tration, we concluded the event with a voter registration drive.
The League’s General Meetings this year included many well-known and knowledgeable guest speakers: Jeff Brindle, Executive Director , NJ Election Law Commission; Elaine Flynn, Middlesex County Clerk; State Senator Linda Green-stein; John Katerba, author and Town Historian; Dr Michael Kozak, former Monroe Township Superintendent of Schools; Sandy Matsen, LWVNJ, Lobbyist; and Alan Weinberg, Monroe Township’s new Business Administrator. These folks were instrumental in bringing added depth to our membership’s and visitor’s understanding of various policy issues.
In support of our goal to ensure that every Township resident who is eligible to vote can register, we held 8 voter registration drives. This year, for the first time, we held a drive in Jamesburg at the public library.
We were pleased to participate in the Green Fair and Oktoberfest. Both events provided an opportunity to share information about the voting process with the public.
There were some disappointments during the year. We had hoped for greater opportunities to educate 17 and 18-year-old students about their rights and responsibilities as voters; and voter turnout for the March Special School Board of Education referendum vote was extremely low. We see both situations not as defeats but as challenges requiring addi-tional effort
This year has been filled with productive activity, but we are frequently reminded of the ever present need to continue true to our mission to advocate for and educate voters about their rights and responsibilities as citizens in our democ-racy. The League’s work is especially critical in this time when our nation is so deeply polarized around political issues. Looking forward, in 2019, we expect that the League on all levels, national, state and local, will continue to focus on issues such as voter’s rights, education and environmental concerns. We expected that there will be heightened em-phasis on legislative redistricting reform as we approach the 2020 census. Here in Monroe Township, our first major event in 2019 will be a program on January 29th intended to increase awareness of the growing threat of human traf-ficking. The program will feature a panel of experts representing various agencies engaged in the battle against human trafficking. Please check our website, www.lwvmonroetwpnj.org, and our Facebook page, MonroeLWV, for more infor-mation about the event.
If you are interested in being part of creating change that benefits us all, we invite you to consider membership in the League of Women Voters. The League of Women Voters is a non-partisan organization that does not support a specific party or candidate but does after research, advocate and act on a wide range of public policy issues. Membership is open to women and men 18 and over. There are varied opportunities to utilize your skills in areas of interest to you. If you would like more information about the Monroe Township League of Women Voters, contact us at lwvmonroetwp [at] gmail.com. We also invite you to attend one of our general meetings held on the third Monday of the month at the Monroe Township Municipal Building.