Moving Toward Real Change

Headline in The Oregonian, Sept. 6, 2020, photo by Beth Nakamura

Protests have always played an important role in drawing attention to the need to change our laws and attitudes. Battles for civil rights and voting rights went on for  years, with many marches and demonstrations. Disrupting normal life with a demonstration can attract media attention that helps the movement.

Police officers pass a fire lit by protesters on Saturday, Sept. 5, 2020. (AP Photo/Noah Berger) in The Skanner

On the other hand, violence between protesters and the police or the destruction of property may turn attention away from the protesters’ real message.

Real change comes with legislative action and citizen engagement. Oregonians have powerful tools to enact change through voting and contacting our elected leaders.

How the LWV can help

The League of Women Voters is dedicated to promoting public involvement in politics. To that end, we are working hard to provide solid nonpartisan information to voters for the coming General Election. You soon will be able to find plenty of unbiased election information about local candidates and measures on our November 3, 2020 General Election webpage. We also encourage people to let their representatives know what they want; we provide contact information for all the Multnomah County Elected Officials here.

Where We Stand on the Ballot Measures

In addition to providing balanced information, the League of Women Voters often speaks out on issues. Our Board of Directors has voted to endorse some of the local ballot measures. Although the League never supports nor opposes any candidate or political party, we do take positions on issues we have studied. Using our advocacy positions and what we have learned and are learning through balanced studies of violence prevention, justice and police accountability, we are endorsing the proposed City Charter Amendment to authorize a new police oversight board. We have paid to publish a statement in favor of this measure in the Multnomah County Voters’ Pamphlet. Read our statement about the charter amendment here. You can also see all our LWV of Portland measure endorsements here.

Extension Granted for PNP!

We still have time NOW to get this on the ballot!

The Oregon Secretary of State has given the People Not Politicians Initiative Campaign more time to gather signatures. The League of Women Voters of Oregon is one of many statewide nonpartisan groups supporting this initiative. It would place redistricting reform on the November 3 General Election ballot. Please help do that. 

If you haven’t yet signed the petition, please download, sign and mail it in by August 8. Let’s make sure voters can elect representatives who truly represent their communities’ interests.  We need to end gerrymandering. Politicians should not be drawing election districts that benefit their parties. Read more about the issues and the proposal here.

In response to Secretary of State Bev Clarno’s decision, the campaign wrote:

“We are grateful the Secretary of State recognized the importance of the democratic process and the significant impacts of the pandemic on Oregonians’ ability to participate in this process,” said Norman Turrill, chair of People Not Politicians … “We will continue to collect signatures to ensure Oregon voters have a chance to bring the redistricting reform we need to end gerrymandering in Oregon once and for all.”

You can read the full statement here.

See our previous posts about People Not Politicians here and here.

Support Fair Redistricting

The “People Not Politicians” initiative would put an independent citizen commission in charge of redistricting in Oregon. That means that a balanced group of citizens – instead of partisan politicians – would design the maps of election districts. Passing this initiative would protect the rights of voters to elect representatives who truly speak for them. This is because it would prevent gerrymandering the districts. Gerrymandering separates groups of voters with similar values and interests, which decreases their voting power. This initiative also calls for the commission to hold ten public hearings to hear people’s comments about their plans.

Here’s Why It’s Important

Here’s How It Would Work

Check the People Not Politicians website for updates on our signature-gathering progress.

How to Contact Elected Officials

Our NEWLY UPDATED directory of Elected Officials is an easy Guide

Do you have ideas or questions about voting or how your government is working for you? Here is a resource you can use. Just updated in January 2020, the League’s Directory of Elected Officials has information and ways to contact your government representatives. Everyone who represents you is included – from the President and US Congress, to City Councils, School Boards and Special District directors. If you contact them, they do pay attention! To download a copy, click here.

For more information, check these website pages:

Thorough Public Process – Key to Code Change

Part of the League’s letter

On November 12, 2019, the League submitted comments to the City Council about the process for changing  City Code Chapter 3.96. This part of the City Code governs the way the Office of Community and Civic Life engages with people in Portland.  Action Chair Debbie Aiona also testified  at the Council’s November 14 hearing.

The City Council resolution calls for a multi-bureau work group to carry out the next phase of this process. The League urges opening the work group’s meetings to the public for observation. We also  recommend following up the work group’s proposals with a thorough public process that includes a broad group of Portlanders.

You can read our testimony here.