In May Illinois Statehouse News had a couple of paragraphs about the Illinois League of Women Voters that are worth repeating:
“Jan Dorner, president of the nonpartisan Illinois League of Women Voters, which represents about 3,000 women and men voters [emphasis added] in the state by hosting political debates and other educational opportunities, said members are sensitive to the “war on women,” mainly because many of them battled issues of birth control and abortion rights decades ago.“It’s not our priority,” Dorner, 60, said about reproductive-rights issues. “I have a 31-year-old daughter. I’m sure it’s not on her radar. Our members are older, and they fought this fight, what, 30, 40 years ago. When they see this stuff come up again, it makes them nuts.”
During the fight over the Regional Transportation Authority in 1974 I was infuriated that the Illinois League endorsed the referendum.
My mother had been an active member of the League, so I got regular downloads of their meetings.
I had attended local meetings in which members educated themselves before some inner meeting of state leaders decided which way they should lean.
As I remember there was no consensus process before RTA was endorsed.
Local chapter members ended up debating us local legislators. I remember they did so with their Chicago talking points in Carpentersville and Crystal Lake.
Here were local women selling out their neighbors.
It infuriated me.
So, when the women’s group opened its membership rolls to men, I joined.
My goal was to make sure the League did not ignore their members again.
How silly of me.
When the income tax hike came up in the 1980’s, there was no consensus process.
The League’s Board just endorsed the increase.
Guess they had studied the topic back when Governor Richard Ogilvie pushed through the original income tax in 1969.
Income tax good.
More income tax better.
My wife was active in the Crystal Lake-Cary League of Women Voters during the early 1990’s.
She was even on the Board.
Other members made it clear they were uncomfortable with a Pro-Lifer being so active.
That chapter has been since merged with the McHenry-Woodstock chapter.
Membership decline probably.
And that brings me back to the information in the StateHouse News article.
Statewide membership is down to about 3,000.
When my wife was active, the State League had over 10,000 members…maybe 12,000.
By then the ERA fight had been lost; abortion had been the law of the land since 1973.
Gone was the interest in juvenile court watching in McHenry County, which surely made the judges observed better jurists.
Long gone were the women who sat, but did not participate, in school board meetings.
This past election cycle, the McHenry County League of Women Voters didn’t even hold a candidates’ night.
Fulfilling that role was the McHenry County Young Republicans.
Want to bet on whether they’ll decide to hold a candidates’ forum for the 52nd state rep. district?
I’m betting they will.