COVID Update

Hello LWVCC Members,

I know you all are monitoring the COVID-19 outbreak and advice from the CDC and other public health sources. I met with our Board and Chair health professionals, Paul Kardon and Ron Ferguson (physicians) and Ann Campbell (RN) along with Charlotte Nycklemoe (Governance Chair) Thursday afternoon to decide how LWVCC should proceed during the COV-19 outbreak. Their input and expertise is very much appreciated. Given the circumstances, our April General Meeting and Annual Meeting both scheduled for April 13 are canceled.

Many of our committees meet at the Community Foundation, and as the Foundation has closed for the next 3 weeks, those committee meetings have also been canceled.

Similarly, the Wine & Wisdom scheduled for March 19 and League 101 scheduled for March 24 have been postponed.

In lieu of our usual in-person Annual Meeting, we’ll be asking you to vote on the budget, slate of officers and program plans electronically, in early April. Stay tuned to receive the necessary information to be able to vote.

We’ll be using the Weekly Update, our monthly newsletter the VOTER, and our website to keep you informed.

If you have any questions or concerns, please feel free to contact me.

Diana Walsh
LWVCollierCounty, President

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!


Candidates for Naples Mayor and City Council 2020


The Candidates for Mayor

(One position, four-year term, click on each candidate’s name to learn more about them)

Bill Barnett

Teresa Heitmann

The Candidates for City Council

(Three positions, four-year terms, click on each candidate’s name to learn more about them)

Edward “Ted” Blankenship

Reg Buxton

Mike McCabe

Michelle McLeod

Paul E. Perry

Ellen Seigel

Election Day is March 17, 2020

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 to learn more.

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

Rural Lands Stewardship Area (RLSA)

We are concerned about the rapid and extensive growth planned for rural eastern Collier County.  Large RLSA landowners seek to develop 45,000 acres of towns and villages in the RLSA, bringing potentially 300,000 new residents to the County.  These developments will impact all Collier County citizens.

We consider it important to voice our concerns to the County because the proposed developments can adversely impact wildlife, especially the endangered panther, and our water resources, create sprawling communities throughout the RLSA, and require extensive public infrastructure such as roads and utilities, the cost of which will be borne by taxpayers.  Impact fees will not begin to cover these costs.

On January 28, Collier County Commissioners will decide whether to approve the first Village in the RLSA, Rivergrass.  Rivergrass Village was rejected by the Collier County Planning Commission 4-1 last November.  If Rivergrass is approved by the Board of County Commissioners, it will set a precedent for future development in the RLSA—an area meant to protect environmentally sensitive lands, wildlife and our agricultural lands by following smart growth principles.  Rivergrass Village is 1000 acres for 2500 homes, a gated golf course community—it is the first of 4 pending applications for “villages” in the stewardship area.  Rivergrass is the opposite of good stewardship—it will be built in habitat critical to panther survival; Rivergrass is the opposite of smart growth—it is a sprawling development, rather than a compact, walkable community, and Oil Well Road (a future 6 lane highway) runs thru the middle of the proposed Village.

If you’d like to do something about the rapid growth in eastern Collier County, you can join us at County Commissioners hearings on these developments.  Your presence alone speaks.

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

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 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.

League Lobby Days Registration Open!

The League is looking to create change on critical priority issues affecting our state during this year’s Legislative Session. But we need your voice to make it happen!
Session will be in full swing when we arrive in Tallahassee on April 9 & 10 ready to meet with state legislators! Learn how to lobby from our representative in Tallahassee, Katia Saint Fleur. Join us on the steps of the Historic Capitol as we hold a press conference, meet with your Representative or Senator, network with fellow activists, and cap off the event with our annual Gala!

Agenda to follow soon. Register here!

Use this link to book your room at the Four Points Downtown Tallahassee to take advantage of our League group rate.

What does “nonpartisan” mean as we approach the midterm elections?

League members know that LWV is a nonpartisan organization. This means that we do not support or oppose any political party or candidate. We do however, take positions on selected governmental issues after member study and agreement. This approach of focusing on issues, not parties or politicians, ensures that the League’s voice is heard above the tumult of party politics while also being able to host respected candidate and issue forums to educate voters.

Our members are active politically. We’re proud that a number of members have run or are currently running for office this year. Others serve on campaigns. As the new season kicks off and as mid-term elections approach, please review the LWVCC’s Nonpartisan Policy, which was approved in 2010.

A few highlights:

  • Except for Voter Services Committee meetings where all candidates are being discussed in regards to voter education activities, discussion of candidates is to be avoided at all League meetings.
  • Campaign literature is not to be distributed at League meetings. There may be a designated area for campaign literature at Candidate Forums.
  • Campaign items may be worn by League members, except LWVCC Board Members.
  • Members in leadership roles have a responsibility to ensure an event’s nonpartisanship.

If there is a question or concern about the League’s policies, please contact the LWVCC.