By Sarah Ellen Rindsberg
The League of Women Voters of New Castle is a very welcoming group. Whether one is new to town or a longtime resident, joining and attending their events adds a new dimension to life by acquiring a breadth of knowledge and meeting fellow residents. “Through the League, I have met many intelligent and interesting community members that I would not have crossed paths with otherwise,” LWVNC Membership Committee chair Lea Barth observed.
Candidates’ Night is one of the most popular forums held by the LWVNC. In this nonpartisan discussion, residents are afforded the opportunity to learn about the qualifications of each person running for office.
Candidates on the local and state levels including those running for the House of Representatives, are invited to speak in the fall and those on the slate for the school and library boards, appear in the spring.
One of the former participants at Candidates’ Night is Town Supervisor Susan Carpenter, who is a huge proponent of the LWVNC. Carpenter spoke highly of their program on climate change too. She recommends the LWVNC to anyone interested in being “informed about anything from very local issues to international concerns.”
Carpenter was on center stage in March at the LWVNC’s annual “Conversation with the Supervisor.” Sheila Miller Bernson and Jennifer Mebes Flagg, Co-Presidents of the League of Women Voters of New Castle mentioned that this is always “a highly anticipated event.” (All subsequent quotes attributed to the LWVNC were provided by the co-presidents.) It provides a special setting in which residents listen intently to Carpenter’s remarks and then pose questions which are answered in a very candid manner.
The effectiveness of the LWVNC is evident in local politics. When a vote was scheduled to determine whether the current method of electing town board members would be changed from an at-large (where all voters can vote for all seats) to a ward system, a lengthy investigation was conducted. The LWVNC described the subsequent education process:
“The League held a community forum where the advantages and disadvantages of the current and proposed forms of government were presented to New Castle residents. The League then advocated against the change by writing a Letter to the Editor of NewCastleNow detailing our position and handing out flyers to the community explaining what adopting this system would mean to New Castle. The Referendum did not pass.”
At community day, representatives are on hand to respond to all manner of queries regarding voting. This past fall, the LWVNC registered over 150 voters at events held throughout the county. This spring, a voter registration drive will be held at Greeley. The LWVNC also encourages civic participation by attending and distributing information on voting at ceremonies for recipients of the Girl Scout gold awards in town and for newly naturalized Americans at the courthouse in White Plains.
And, yes, in an era where the issue of gender equity is still of paramount importance, men are also vital members of this organization; constituting 20% of the current 100 members. In addition, Bruce Gilchrist served as president in 2003. The LWVNC also participates in meetings on global issues at the United Nations. Last spring, members attended a presentation on human trafficking. The LWVNC said that “Several New Castle League members have had the privilege of being Alternate UN Observers.”
Future programs include a forum on health care, co-sponsored by the Chappaqua Library, on May 7. This will be followed on May 15 by the annual meeting and luncheon (which is open to all) at Crabtree’s Kittle House where the featured speaker will be Assemblyman David Buchwald. On May 16, Candidates’ Night for the school and library boards will take place at the Chappaqua Library. Further information on the LWVNC is available at www.lwvnewcastle.org.