Chris Piper to speak at the annual meeting today!

Voters voting in polling place

LWV-Williamsburg Area Fall Reception is today, September 19 at 4:30 p.m. at Legacy Hall in New Town.
Speaker: Chris Piper, Virginia Department of Elections Commissioner. Hear the latest on election integrity in Virginia.
Our program BEGINS promptly at 4:30 p.m., so please arrive a bit early.
Wine & Cheese Reception will follow. No cost. New and interested members welcome.
If you are coming, don’t forget to RSVP by clicking here.

Public Comment on Gun Violence Prevention

August 9, 2019

Dear Director Howard and members of the Virginia State Crime Commission,

As President of the League of Women Voters – Williamsburg Area, I write in support of several critical pieces of legislation regarding gun violence prevention.  A super majority of Virginians support the concept of sensible gun reform and legislation.

We urge you to pass the following pieces of legislation on to the General Assembly for their serious consideration and vote:

– SB4019, which would close background check loopholes

– SB4012, which would implement Extreme Risk Protection Orders in Virginia

– SB2024, which would ban assault firearms equipped with high capacity magazines, bump stocks, or silencers

The public safety of Virginians is at stake.  Having lived in the Commonwealth since 1999, I have witnessed the impact of the massacres at Virginia Tech and the recent gun violence in Virginia Beach and all those other less publicized incidents.

Please use your influence and political decision-making power to make a difference by boldly addressing this unprecedented challenge.  You have an an opportunity to do the right thing for the people of our great Commonwealth.

Sincerely,

Mary Schilling, President
League of Women Voters-Williamsburg Area

Primary Election: June 11, 2019

If you are in the 96th District, you will have the opportunity to vote in a primary election June 11, 2019. The 96th District includes parts of James City County and York County. If you live in York County, check the Elections Department website to see if you are part of the 96th.

Primaries require you to choose between two members of the same party for who will be on the ballot in the November General election. You will need to choose either a Democratic or Republican party ballot when you vote – you can choose either, but only one.

Scroll down to see a gallery of the ballots for this election.

In James City County, only the following areas will participate in the primary (from the JCC Elections website).

ONLY the following precincts will participate in the June Primary. If your precinct is not listed, you do not have a primary election this year:

PrecinctVoting Location
Berkeley B 0102Clara Byrd Baker Elementary
Berkeley C 0103Matoaka Elementary
Jamestown B 0202JCC Recreation Center
Jamestown C 0203Upward Church
Jamestown D 0204King of Glory Lutheran Church
Powhatan A 0301Hornsby Middle School
Powhatan B 0302Lafayette High School
Powhatan C 0303Toano Middle School
Powhatan D 0304Warhill High School
Stonehouse A 0401Hickory Neck Episcopal Church
Stonehouse B 0402Norge Elementary School
Stonehouse C 0403Stonehouse Elementary School

Remembering Founding League Member Bobbye Alexander

by Phoebe Kent, Voter Co-Editor

As we celebrate our 55th year as a League (and look forward to the 2020 anniversary of the Suffrage Amendment and subsequent founding of the US League of Women Voters in 1920), it is important that we remember those who founded the Williamsburg League. On March 26, 2019, one of our founding members, Bobbye Alexander, died. A long-time community activist and educator, Bobbye, as Mary Schilling noted in her column, was a role model for all of us.

Because Bobbye and four others, including educator Clara Byrd Baker (for whom a WJCC elementary school is named), were African American, the state League refused to recognize the chapter. At that time, there were no racially integrated chapters in Virginia, and a poll tax was still in effect.

Edith Edwards, also a founding League member, recalls that Bobbye was a “driving force” among about 25 local women who sought provisional status as a local League. Because Bobbye and four others, including educator Clara Byrd Baker (for whom a W/JCC elementary school is named), were African American, the state League refused to recognize the chapter. At that time, there were no racially integrated chapters in Virginia, and a poll tax was still in effect. Not to be deterred, the women persisted. The state League reluctantly agreed if only white women served as officers. The Williamsburg women again resisted. The Virginia League finally backed down, making the Williamsburg League the first integrated League in Virginia.

Bobbye, a mathematics teacher and later department chair at Bruton Heights School, Berkeley, James Blair and Lafayette High Schools, was our League’s first treasurer. Liz Montgomery’s tribute to Bobbye during the celebration of her life on April 6 noted Bobbye’s belief that women could be counted on to get things done. As Edith and another non-League friend reported, Bobbye was very responsible and a force to be reckoned with. If she took on a task, she completed it – and more. And if she asked you to do something, she expected you to do it – and more!

Bobbye was born in Jacksonville, FL to parents who believed in service to church, community, and in politics. She and her husband Hubert followed that path as well. Bobbye’s contributions to our community included her 35 years as an educator; her faithful service in many roles at Historic First Baptist Church; more than 30 years leading the York-James City Williamsburg NAACP’S Afro-Academic Cultural, Technological and Scientific Olympics (ACT-SO) program that encourages black high school students’ involvement in STEM studies and the humanities, business, and cultural arts. A strong advocate of voting rights for all, she remained a staunch member of the League and loyal alumnus of her sorority Alpha Kappa Alpha and leader in Le Cercle Charmante, the African American Women’s Club founded in 1944 by educators that awards annual scholarships to high school senior black women. She was “a mighty force for good.” Bobbye’s was indeed a life well lived.

General Assembly Results and Observations

Excerpted from a Voter Express article by Carol Noggle, Voter Protection Officer, State League of Virginia

Yes, it was a “wild” General Assembly session, as one newspaper headline stated. All sorts of unanticipated drama involving constitutional officers, but the legislative process continued with the LWV-VA and others in attendance. Observers could see during floor sessions some differences in the House and Senate culture, protocol and decorum, including somedebate obstruction. “Will the Gentleman yield?” “No, I will not yield.” Each side of House attempted to “hijack the rules.” Frequent Point of Personal Privilege (PPP) statements were very “pointed” from both sides on various bills including those regarding firearms in churches, ERA ratification, limiting the power of the Governor, changes to long-standing Rules, teaching Bible literature in the schools, and even on which June Tuesday to have the Primary elections. The House, with many subcommittees, affects the disposition of bills differently than the Senate. The House subcommittees have been described as “powerful gatekeepers” because a successful bill in the full Senate will fail in a House subcommittee that has only seven members.

What actually happened? Of 93 election related bills, 24 passed; among them:

• No-excuse absentee voting, though only for seven days.

• Absentee polling places will stay open properly for voters who are in line at 7pm.

• Preventing split precincts and establishing proper boundary lines advanced.

• Yet to be determined is whether or not voters will be considered “provisional” while waiting for verification of Social Security numbers.

• Improved ballot order to list candidates before the ballot questions will ensure that voters see the candidates first.

• Recount procedures for tied elections were clarified.

What didn’t pass?

• Requiring Voter Registration and information in Commonwealth high schools;

• Restoration of voting rights and voter registration information in regional jails; Extending the deadline for receipt of mail-in ballots;

• Allowing the Photo ID of a student enrolled at an out- of-state university;

• Extending the expiration time allowance for a DMV Photo ID;

• Most gun safety legislation including a “Red Flag” or Extreme Risk Protective Order bill;

• Ranked choice voting in local elections.

Environmental bills that passed included one on coal ash mitigation. Legislators prohibited any carbon dioxide cap-and-trade efforts by the Governor or a state agency. Regarding firearm safety, legislators rejected a “red flag” bill or Extreme Risk Protective Order (ERPO) and a bill related to allowing firearms in churches. One successful opioid-related bill expanded who can possess and administer naloxone or other opioid antagonist, after completing training. Below are articles relating on the successful passage of a bipartisan commission on redistricting and inaction on the ERA. The redistricting bill, aimed at limiting gerrymandering, needs additional steps to be added as an amendment to the Constitution.

Come hear local representatives discuss the 2019 General Assembly

Come out and hear from your local representatives, Senators Tommy Norment and Monty Mason along with Delegates Brenda Pogge and Mike Mullin, about the legislature that was passed in the recent General Assembly session.

Coffee and networking will start at 8:30 a.m. on April 26 followed by the forum and a Q & A session at 9 a.m.  The event is free and open to the public, so be sure to register today and we’ll see you at the Williamsburg Library!

  • Date: 4/26/2019 
  • Time: 8:30 AM 
  • Location: Williamsburg Regional Library, 515 Scotland St. Williamsburg, VA 23185

The April 2019 newsletter is here, & we’ve been busy!

Mary Schilling, President
Empowering Voters. Defending Democracy.

While it’s easy to get discouraged these days, there have been some positive signs of responsible engagement in the challenging issues of the day. Our League consistently was well represented at the weekly Women’s Legislative Roundtables during General Assembly. Each week also included opportunities to meet with our Delegates and Senators to advocate on legislation on which the we have League positions.

Don Shilling (left) and Mary Schilling & Bobbi Falquet (right) welcome former ambassadors Nancy Ely- Raphel and Thomas Pickering to Great Decisions on March 4. Career Ambassador Pickering, our speaker, served more than four decades as U.S. ambassador to Russia, India, Israel, El Salvador, Nigeria, Jordan and the United Nations, as well as Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs—the third highest post in the State Department. His partner Ely-Raphael served as ambassador to Slovenia and legal affairs in the State Department.
Don Shilling (left) and Mary Schilling & Bobbi Falquet (right) welcome former ambassadors Nancy Ely- Raphel and Thomas Pickering to Great Decisions on March 4. Career Ambassador Pickering, our speaker, served more than four decades as U.S. ambassador. His partner Ely-Raphael served as ambassador to Slovenia.

The February/March Great Decisions lecture series was a huge success with outstanding speakers addressing eight of the thorniest and most critical issues in current foreign affairs. With approximately 270 in attendance each Tuesday morning, the signature program helps us reach out to the broader Williamsburg community.

William & Mary’s Students Demand Action group planned a full week of programs and events on gun violence prevention, culminating in a March to End Gun Violence at the Colonial Capitol Building on DoG Street on Saturday, March 23. The featured speaker at the rally was Rep. Elaine Luria, representing Virginia’s 2nd Congressional district. Our League Advocacy and Action program committee members have been hard at work examining Election Integrity issues and exploring initiatives in Civics Education in the public schools. As part of the Gun Violence Prevention initiative, Christine Payne has invited Lori Haas, Virginia Director of the Coalition to Stop Gun Violence to speak on Monday, May 13 at 7 pm at Stryker Building. I urge you and interested friends to attend.

While these programs and events may seem modest, this is what democracy looks like.

We are excited about the upcoming LWVVA Biennial Convention in Norfolk, May 17- 19. Our thanks to Anne Smith, vice president for programs on the State Board and a member of our own Board, for her masterful job in developing a substantive convention program. The speakers’ and session topics are timely: Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion; Election Security and Integrity; Redistricting; Defending Democracy; Women’s Issues-Sexual Harassment. While these programs and events may seem modest, this is what democracy looks like. Remember, “we are the ones we’ve been waiting for.” You can make a difference.

read the full newsletter

Join Us for LWV-VA Biennial Convention!

Anne Smith, LWV-WA and LWV-WA Board Member and Convention Chair

local league president and member of state league board

I am excited to tell you about the 39th LWV-VA Convention at the Norfolk Waterside Marriott on May 17-19. We think this will be both an informative and fun session! The location is close and easy to access so you can come for the full Convention or take advantage of the single-day registration.

The League of South Hampton Roads is the host League and has planned activities on Friday evening … a “Dine Around” to take advantage of Norfolk’s fine restaurants or a water ferry to those in Olde Towne Portsmouth. You can register early, beginning at 5:00 pm Friday, May 17, and join the fun. Saturday morning’s plenary session will be League business, primarily reports. Voting will take place during the Sunday morning plenary.

Diversity and Inclusion are major considerations for all levels of the League – National, State, and Local. Saturday’s lunch speaker on Diversity is Christy S. Coleman, a Williamsburg native with extraordinary accomplishments. Named by Time as “One of 31 People Changing the South,” she is the CEO of Richmond’s American Civil War Museum, which encompasses several historic sites. Previously, she was President/CEO of the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History in Detroit and Director of Historic Programs for Colonial Williamsburg.

Let Mary Schilling know of your interest in attending soon.
Registration ends April 25.

We have some truly informative breakout sessions planned for Saturday afternoon. Speakers include Jim Spore, 30+ year Virginia Beach City Manager talking about Infrastructure, Innovation, Transportation issues. Others include Skip Stiles, Executive Director of Wetlands Watch on “What about This Weather?”; Walt Latham, York County Director of Elections/General Registrar and President of the Voter Registrars Association of Virginia; and W&M Law Professor Rebecca Green on Redistricting Reform. Before our Sunday a.m. plenary session, Ron Carlee will speak on “Defending Democracy on All Levels.” A professor at Old Dominium University, Dr. Carlee, past Arlington, VA County Manager and Charlotte, NC City Manager, is a global presenter for the International City Managers Association (ICMA).

Although Convention adjourns at noon Sunday, the South Hampton Roads League has scheduled a “bonus session” for the afternoon focused on THE ENVIRONMENT. It includes knowledgeable speakers on a topic relevant for us all, including combating rising sea levels. LWV-WA can send eleven voting delegates, but absolutely every member is welcome to attend as observers and participate in every way except voting … it is an opportunity to learn, meet others from around the Commonwealth, and also … have fun! I hope many of you will choose to participate as observers.