Centennial Celebration – 100 Years of Women Voting, 100 Year of The League of Women Voters

woemn dressed up like suffragettes
Patti Forkan, Centennial Celebration Co-Chair, Carrie Chapman Catt aka Joanne Huskey, and Marilyn Smith, creator of “Votes For Women” sashes.

On February 20th over 150 people gathered to celebrate 100 Years of Women Voting and the founding of the League of Women Voters. The venue, Naples Sailing and Yacht Club, offered a fabulous view of Naples Bay. We mingled and had an opportunity to look through Collier County League scrap books from 1975 – 2010. It was fun to recognize many of our longtime members in the photos and newspaper clippings, and reminisce about the League.


Eileen and Paul Arsenault, artist
Eileen and Paul Arsenault, artist

During the evening we received a very generous offer from artist Paul Arsenault to auction the painting he created to honor the League’s anniversary and the work we do for the community. (Our commemorative scarves were designed based on the painting.) This produced quite a lot of excitement and when the auction closed we had a wonderful donation of $3,000 and a lucky member gained a beautiful painting. Many, many thanks to Paul Arsenault.


Claudine Schneider at podium speaking
Claudine Schneider, former U.S. Congresswoman and Climate Change activist who addressed the audience.

We were entertained by an inspiring performance of Carrie Chapman Catt, our founder, by League member Joanne Huskey. We highlighted some of the League’s accomplishments over 100 years, recognized past presidents and heard from guest speaker Claudine Schneider who spoke about her experiences in Congress and her current focus on Climate Change. She had suggestions for what we all can do to make a difference – from reviewing our investments, to speaking up about lightbulbs, paper straws or packaging at the supermarket, to calling our legislators.

Now we can start planning for the next 100 years!


Collier County League of Women Voters: Celebrating 100 Years of Suffrage

Press Release, January 17, 2020

Collier County League of Women Voters

Celebrating 100 Years of Suffrage

To Celebrate 100 Years of Votes for Women  we are hosting a gala event on February 20, 2020 at the Naples Sailing and Yacht Club, 5:30-8:30 p.m. All are welcome to come and celebrate this historic milestone, along with the 100th Anniversary of the founding of the League of Women Voters.

Imagine a time…

When a married woman did not have the legal right to own property, enter into contracts, sign legal documents, or control what happens to her wages or her children…

When women who dare to speak in public are ridiculed, reviled, threatened, even attacked…

When women are not allowed to vote!

(Elizabeth Cady Stanton & Susan B. Anthony: A Friendship that Changed the World by Penny Colman, 2011)

Special guest speaker will be former 5-term Congresswoman, Claudine Schneider, the first woman elected to the U.S. House from her home state of Rhode Island. She is a strong advocate for women’s and environmental issues. Since leaving office, she has continued working on environmental protection and Climate Change

It’s hard to believe that 100 years ago women didn’t have the rights and freedoms of today. The fight for women’s right to vote was long, contentious, and arduous until the passage of the 19th Amendment to the Constitution on August 18,1920.

Carrie Chapman Catt was a leader in the movement. She led the effort to convince the state legislature in Tennessee to be the essential 36th state to ratify the amendment. Recognizing the importance of educating women about the election process and topics of the day, Ms. Catt founded the League of Women Voters in February 1920. A re-enactment of our founder addressing her followers will be delivered by a local performer.

The Collier County League of Women Voters works on registering voters, running candidate forums open to the public, and publishing Voter Guides. We study issues of importance to the community and advocate for action. Established as a nonpartisan (does not support or oppose any political party or candidate) organization, the mission at its founding, as now, is to “encourage informed and active participation in government.”

We’ve advocated for smart growth particularly in eastern Collier, as well as for reasonable guidelines on fertilizer usage; we have been instrumental in obtaining a government grant to study sea level rise in Collier County. We have advocated for accountability in public education, for improvements in juvenile justice, for increased availability of mental health services, and for maintaining home rule at the local level.

We invite you to join us to celebrate the ratification of the 19th amendment and the history of the League of Women Voters! Go to www.lwvcollier.org to learn more.

Press Contact: Joanne Grady Huskey, 301-325-4257, [email protected]

Going Solar in the Sunshine State: The Southwest Florida Solar Co-op 2020


Going Solar in the Sunshine State:  The Southwest Florida Solar Co-op 2020

Our world is getting hotter – a lot hotter!  Record breaking heat plagued southwest Florida throughout October and November, increasing our energy needs at a time when we strive to decrease our use of fossil fuels.  Be it coal, petroleum or natural gas, the prevailing sources of energy production, they all accelerate the warming of our earth.   Solar energy is our antidote.  It is clean, inexpensive and readily available in the sunshine state of Florida.

The League of Women Voters of Lee and Collier counties have partnered with a nonprofit solar organization – Solar United Neighbors (SUN) – to form a solar co-op and you can join from January – April 2020.  This co-op harnesses the power of group purchasing and the expertise and experience of SUN to make your transition to solar power simple and affordable. SUN will guide you through each step of the process to ensure you get the right equipment for your home, quality installation and a strong warranty at a reasonable price. The co-op is open to residents and small businesses of Collier and Lee counties.  More detailed information may be found on the SUN website https://www.solarunitedneighbors.org/florida/

In addition to the financial benefits of buying through a co-op, there is a 26% federal tax credit available for solar roofs installed in 2020. This tax credit decreases to 21% in 2021, then expires completely.  That is a significant incentive.  Installation of a $25,000 solar roof results in a $6500 tax credit –a substantial savings!

The 2020 co-op builds on the success of Collier County’s 2019 solar co-op.  Those accomplishments were impressive:

-28 Collier County homes are now powered by solar

-8 new solar jobs in Florida were created

-1,173 kWh of electricity are produced daily

-That solar power saves 30,414 gallons of water – every day

-1,210 lbs of carbon are avoided from the atmosphere – every day.

That is the equivalent of planting 24 trees- every day!

There will be free info sessions in Fort Myers, Sanibel Island, Estero, Naples, Marco Island and an online webinar for those who can’t make the evening sessions!  Our first session is on Tuesday, Feb 4 from 6-8 PM at the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Greater Naples, 6340 Napa Woods Way, Naples. Visit https://coops.solarunitedneighbors.org/coops/southwest-fl-solar-co-op/ for further information.

Save Money

Save energy

Save water

Save the earth for us and future generations.


Go Solar!










Emerson Academy Student is a Featured Speaker at League of Women Voters Luncheon

Jonathan Oliva-Infante addresses the challenges to Hispanic voter participation

Reported by Reported by Bill McCormick, Director of Emerson Academy, Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Greater Naples

Jonathan Oliva-Infante joined two other panel members at the December League of  Women Voters (LWV) luncheon held at the Naples Hilton to bring attention to issues and obstacles for maximizing voter turnout in Florida. Liza MacLenaghan, a Florida government affairs specialist, updated the audience on the Florida Legislative status on a variety of voter concerns, including the state government’s exceedingly slow-motion efforts to restore voting rights for ex-felons. The lead US Census Bureau official for SW Florida on the panel, Michelle Malsbury, described the status of and plans for conducting an accurate census count in our community in 2020.

Jonathan is a senior at Golden Gate High School and 2019 participant in Emerson Academy, a college preparatory summer program. He noted that Golden Gate High School has a large Hispanic population and a minority of white ethnic Americans. He focused his remarks on Hispanic voter participation. His presentation was derived in part from his research into Hispanic voter participation conducted last summer as an intern with the Naples LWV. His work was carried out under the mentorship of Dr. Elizabeth Polli, former Professor of Spanish Language and Literature at Dartmouth College. He also has been advised regarding his interest in government service by Ms. Joanne Huskey, who had a long career in the foreign service and joined the Naples Unitarian Universalist Congregation after her work with the U.S. State Department. She also served as a seminar leader in Emerson Academy.

As a first-generation U.S. citizen, Jonathan gave the audience a most insightful perspective of issues confronting current and potential Hispanic voters. Notwithstanding his own family background, Jonathan endeavored to remain objective in his research as an LWV intern. He vividly described how Florida’s Hispanic and Latino population’s involvement in the electoral process faces multiple obstacles. His personal account and reflections about the ubiquitous sentiments of Hispanic residents toward American governmental institutions in recent times in the United States illustrated major causes for low voter turnout within the community of recent immigrants.

Jonathan described his parental background with his father’s homeland in El Salvador and his mother being born in Mexico. In both countries, many citizens are fearful of government agencies, which are overtly corrupt in many aspects of their respective
official dealings with the populace. Ordinary citizens of those countries are suspicious of government institutions and avoid contacts with authorities whenever possible. Jonathan quoted a ubiquitous expression of caution among citizens of such countries, “No abres la puerta”, which translates to, “Do not open the door.” It is a common practice in Hispanic domestic life in their home countries not to answer the door when there is a stranger knocking. This sense of fear and suspicion is an embedded part of the culture of Hispanic immigrants coming to the United States via our southern borders. Now, ironically, it is a common aspect of Hispanic domestic life in America.

Jonathan noted that the reality of being in America for people such as his parents is currently one of a most unwelcoming atmosphere at the federal level. Jonathan’s research indicates that in President Trump’s own words, he depicts Mexicans as
“rapists” and “criminals”. He described how the Trump administration has made resident Latino populations the main focus of the U.S. Immigration, Customs, and Enforcement (I.C.E.) Agency’s operations. In referencing the research of UCLA’s Professor Matt A. Barreto, Jonathan cited the Federal Government’s poor treatment and neglect of Latinos seeking asylum in America. This has led to fear among some Hispanics of even coming close to federal and state government buildings. It is common knowledge that Hispanic residents who might legitimately seek police contact for protection or to assist in law enforcement elect not to do so because they seek to avoid being identified.

Clearly the present political climate in the United States has a negative impact on the goal of creating greater voter turnout of citizens of Latino backgrounds. This situation has encouraged Jonathan to consider political science as a major course of study as he plans for a college or university education next year. Jonathan reported that 60% of Latinos are 34 years old or younger; and 44% of eligible Hispanic voters are millennials, (i.e. persons reaching adulthood in the 21st century).

He described several factors, such as economic burdens and frequent job-related location changes, which make millennial voter participation more difficult. On a more positive note, Jonathan identified various organizations, such as Voto Latino and People for the American Way, which have made significant headway to engage Hispanic citizens in the electoral process. He noted that having more Hispanic candidates on ballots, who understand the needs of this ethnic constituency, will likely bring more such citizens to the polls in effective numbers.

At this stage of Jonathan’s educational journey, he envisions a career plan to address the needs of Hispanic citizens through government service. This could well include his eventual running for elective office in the future, which will become more feasible as the proportion of Hispanic voters within our population continues to increase. Given the LWV’s enthusiastic reception for Jonathan’s informative presentation, it would appear that he is on the right path as he pursues his long term goals.

State blocks use of UF student union as early voting center

Election supervisors and the League of Women Voters have a new complaint with Gov. Rick Scott and the Legislature over early voting.

After years of complaints by supervisors who struggled with historically long lines at the polls in 2012, lawmakers last year expanded the list of early voting sites to include fairgronds, civic centers, courthouses, county commission buildings, stadiums, convention centers and government-owned community centers.

But when the city of Gainesville — which is heavily Democratic — asked if it could use the University of Florida student union for early voting in next month’s municipal elections, the state said no.

“The Reitz Union is a structure designed for, and affiliated with, a specific educational institution,” says an advisory opinion from Maria Matthews, director of the state Division of Elections, which is run by a Scott appointee, Secretary of State Ken Detzner. “The terms ‘convention center’ and ‘government-owned community center’ cannot be construed so broadly as to include the Reitz Union.”

The opinion noted that the 2013 Legislature rejected an amendment that would have further expanded the definition of early voting sites to include “educational facilities.”

“I’m very upset about this,” said Polk County Supervisor of Elections Lori Edwards, president of a statewide supervisors’ group. “I just can’t understand why they feel the need to be so restrictive about where people are allowed to vote … This is strategic. They’re worried about young people voting.”

The union, named for former UF President J. Wayne Reitz, is used as a regular voting precinct in county, state and national elections. About 50,000 students attend UF, and the city said the request to use the Reitz Union for early voting came from a group of students.

With the UF student union now off limits, the city plans to use two early voting sites for the March 11 election, assistant city attorney Nicolle Shalley said. One is about 1.5 miles away and the other about three miles away (an earlier version of this post had incorrect distances).

Senate Ethics & Elections Chairman Jack Latvala, R-Clearwater, who sponsored SB 600, the 2013 law that expanded early voting sites, said: “No, no, we really did not specifically allow for them to be on campus.” He noted that the law allows for the use of one “bonus” site in an area underserved by other sites, but Shalley said that provision did not apply to Gainesville. Latvala said the city and Detzner’s office should “share” responsibility for the controversy.

“The way they (the city) asked the question is the way the department answered it,” Latvala said.

Deirdre Macnab, president of the League of Women Voters, called it “jaw dropping to consider that we wouldn’t open up the student union, the student library and other buildings on campus to make it easier for our leaders of tomorrow to start their civic duty of voting. One can only be left with the impression that the Florida Legislature, Governor and Secretary of State would frankly prefer to discourage student participation.”

Article by Steve Bousquet, Times/Herald Tallahassee Bureau for Tampa Bay Times

Civic Groups Renew Call for Restoration of Felon Voting Rights

Civil and voting rights groups hosting a panel discussion in Lantana this weekend hope it will kick off a renewed discussion of Florida’s restriction of felons’ voting rights. An additional penalty on citizens who have otherwise paid their debt to society, the restriction has left one in ten voting-age Floridians without the right to participate in the democratic process.
One of the last vestiges of Florida’s Reconstruction-era official racism, with a disproportionate impact on the African-American and Hispanic communities, felon disenfranchisement was largely eliminated in 2007 by then-Gov. Charlie Crist. It was reinstituted in 2011 by Rick Scott — one of his first acts in office.
Under the rules formulated by Scott, felons convicted of nonviolent crimes must wait five years before applying for restoration, and those convicted of violent crimes must wait seven.
In addition to undermining democracy, the panel’s sponsors say, felon disenfranchisement presents an additional stumbling block to ex-cons’ reintegration to society. “It’s a knee-jerk reaction in a tough-on-crime climate,” Desmond Meade, president of the Florida Rights Restoration Coalition, told New Times. “Voting rights help reentry and ultimately make communities safer.”
Legislation that would make restoration of voting and other civil rights automatic for nonviolent felons upon completion of sentences has been introduced in Tallahassee by state Rep. Clovis Watson, Jr. (D-Gainesville). But chances of passage by the GOP-dominated Legislature are slim and, even if it were, a veto by Gov. Scott a certainty.
In the alternative, according to leaders at the ACLU of Florida, the League of Women Voters and Meade, voting rights activists are considering a citizen’s initiative to place a restoration amendment on the Florida ballot in 2016. “It’s a topic under serious discussion and research,” said Deirdre Macnab, president of the League of Women Voters of Florida.
Meade said his group will be organizing “500 congregations statewide to stand for forgiveness and restoration.” They also intend to “reach out to the one-and-a-half million disenfranchised to get their families to support restoration.
“Think of Jesus on the cross with the two thieves,” Meade said. “‘Today you shall be with me in paradise,’ he told them. He didn’t tell them to wait five to seven years. Repentance and forgiveness are immediate.”
Restore the Vote – Disfranchisement Undermines Democracy
Sunday, February 9, 2 to 4:30 p.m.
Free and open to the public
Lantana County Library
4020 Lantana Road, Lake Worth
Howard Simon, Executive Director of Florida ACLU
Desmond Meade, President, Florida Rights Restoration Coalition
Jackie Winchester, former PBC Supervisor of Elections
Rep. Bobby Powell, District 88
Article by Fire Ant for Broward Palm Beach New Times

Five from Brevard honored as ‘Women of Action’

Five Brevard County women whose activism bears impact locally and beyond were honored as “Women of Action” Friday by League of Women Voters of the Space Coast.
The awards, the first of their kind for the League, came out of “thinking about the wonderful talent we have here, people who have contributed to the well-being of our county and citizens,” said Marilynn Collins, co-president.
Those honored during a luncheon at Suntree Country Club were:
• Joan Borders, Polly Cordell and Mary Eason, co-founders of Rolling Readers in Brevard;
• Maureen Rupe, president of Brevard Partnership for a Sustainable Future; and
• Alberta Wilson, chairwoman of the Space Coast Chapter of the National Congress of Black Women.
Wilson’s many roles have included serving as president of the Central Brevard NAACP and the Cocoa-Rockledge Civic League. Her “passion for equity, education, diversity, civic engagement and community awareness are reflected in the numerous volunteer leadership roles she has undertaken and all the community service awards which she has received,” Collins said.
Rupe, Collins said, “has fought for clean water, clean air and our Indian River Lagoon for many years.” She is president of the Partnership for a Sustainable Future, a coalition of diverse groups working to establish and maintain an economically and environmentally sustainable future for Brevard.
Cordell was spurred to start the local Rolling Readers program, which assists children in Pre-K through Grade 3 in learning to read, after hearing about its namesake in California. She was joined by Borders and Eason in the project, which today serves more than 6,000 Brevard students in 26 Title 1 elementary schools. In November 2013, Rolling Readers was named at FLORIDA TODAY’s Volunteer Recognition Awards as Organization of the Year.
Keynote speaker Deirdre Macnab, president of the League of Women Voters of Florida, said the work done by honorees exemplifies action that matters in every area of everyday life.
“Whether it’s their school or a zoning issue … these are things that really get people out of their easy chairs and get their hands on the driving wheel,” she said.
~ by Britt Kennerly for FLORIDA TODAY