League of Women Voters
Promoting Active Participation In Government For 99 Years

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League of Women Voters Portland History

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League of Women Voters - Promoting Active Participation In Government For 99 Years

Women in America began the fight for the right to vote in the 1840s. In 1920, the US Congress passed the 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, finally giving women the right to vote.


In 1920, the National American Woman Suffrage Association formed the National League of Women Voters. The purpose of the National League of Women Voters was to foster education in citizenship and to support improved legislation.


Oregon women were well represented, when the National League of Women Voters was formed. One of the delegates, Mrs. C.B. Simmons formed the Oregon Branch of the National League of Women Voters in Portland in 1920.


Recently, Ms. Debbi Aiona, Action Chair of the Oregon League of Women Voters was kind enough to take time from her busy schedule to explain the organization's goals and policies. The League of Women Voters of Portland promotes inclusive, active, and informed participation in government. The Portland organization has undertaken comprehensive studies and developed positions on Civic Engagement/Neighborhood Associations, Police Oversight, Housing, Portland Harbor Superfund Site, Joint Terrorism Task Force, Climate Change and Portland Campaign Finance - Open and Accountable Elections.


Commissioner Chloe Eudaly recently advocated changing City Code Chapter 3.96 to effectively eviscerate Portland's Neighborhood Associations. Commissioner Eudaly's heavy handed approach to changing this city code galvanized support across the city for the Neighborhood Associations.


On November 19, 2019, the League of Women Voters of Portland issued the following statement on City of Portland Civic Engagement: Code Chapter 3.96 - "We support the goals of greater inclusivity and improvements to the City's civic engagement programs and acknowledge that City Code Chapter 3.96 would benefit from an overhaul that recognizes the broad responsibilities assigned to the Office of Community and Civic Life. However, it is premature to replace the existing Code Chapter 3.96 language describing the current structure without offering a suitable alternative for consideration. In the absence of a thoroughly articulated replacement, the City will be left with an unacceptable vacuum in its civic engagement structure."


On November 19, 2019, I too gave testimony to Mayor Ted Wheeler and City Commissioners Eudaly, Fish, Fritz and Hardest City Code Chapter 3.96. In my testimony, I stated "I firmly support increasing civic participation of all residents, including those who identify with historically marginalized communities. However, I strongly disagree that civic participation will be increased by eviscerating Neighborhood Associations as was proposed by the original 3.96 draft ordinance. As you consider convening a new committee to assess the place of Neighborhood Associations in code, you should make sure those very neighborhood associations have a seat at the table, unlike the last committee. The members must be genuinely representative of the city's neighborhoods, not hand-selected advocates whose views align with one commissioner's."


The Oregon League of Women Voters' position on Code Chapter 3.96 is one of many examples organization's efforts to promote inclusive, active, and informed participation in government. The League of Women Voters is 99 years young and still going strong in Portland and across America.


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