The “Fayette County League of Women Voters” was organized in 1920, immediately after passage of the 19th Amendment, giving women the right to vote. Its charter stated that the League was a “… non- partisan organization whose purpose is to encourage the informed and active participation of all citizens in government.” It was renamed in 1941 as the Lexington League (LWV) and focused on issues of local interest to the members including public services, budgets, personnel policies, the environment and concerns of low income families.
In the past, the League focused on education and teacher certification, amending an outdated Constitution, child welfare, an extensive water study, environmental health, city planning, human rights, housing, public transportation, election laws and promotion of a merit system for government personnel. League members conducted a number of studies, made recommendations for a merged government and worked diligently to inform the public and encourage citizens to vote for the merger. The League was one of the few organizations that was an early supporter of the merger. Members worked on a petition drive, provided financial assistance, participated in a door to door campaign, sponsored community round tables, held workshops, held unit meetings, monitored merger commission meetings, annotated each section of the charter to help the public understand it, conducted radio and TV programs, wrote letters to the editor, served as members of the merger commission (two members), and registered voters. Members "observed" a number of government entities and reported back, keeping the pulse of city hall and its commissions and helping to keep them on the up and up. As one member said, “They knew we were there!” In 1979, the League supported and lobbied for enactment of an effective ordinance to prevent electioneering at polling places, which prohibited anyone from handing out campaign materials with 200 feet of voting locations. And, the work continues.
Many League members provided valuable leadership in Lexington. Abby Marlatt was deeply engaged in civil rights work in efforts to end segregation in restaurants and theatres here in Lexington. One League member, Pam Miller, was the first woman elected to the Urban County Council and its first woman mayor. Other former members have served on Council. Mary Alice Roberts led the work of a thorough water study. Alberta Coleman chaired a study on housing which led to a city government housing office and creation of Virginia Place, apartment housing for single mothers enrolled in school.
With recent growth in Lexington’s population and an increased interest in the LWV, members continue to serve on local boards and commissions. The League has always worked to inform voters by providing contact information of elected officials, candidate surveys, get-togethers on current issues of interest and candidate forums, all of which are free and open to the public. Beyond community events, membership in the League provides a dynamic entry into civic involvement.
As Lexington builds on a sound foundation of League activity, we expect to continue to work for the informed and active participation of citizens in government.
“Activities of the League of Women Voters, Lexington During the 1960s,” Helen Sauer, Henry Clay High School student intern, April 27, 2011
“Significant Activities of the Lexington Kentucky League of Women Voters, 1970-79,” Laura K. Martin, November 1979
I spent the past couple of years overseas. It was interesting seeing the U.S. through the lens of other countries. When I returned, I felt it was really important to do something to support our democracy. Lucky for me, The League of Women Voters of Lexington was a perfect fit! As a nonpartisan group dedicated to supporting democracy, the League registers voters, organizes candidate forums, encourages legislation which supports democracy and more. I have had a great experience so far and encourage anyone interested to join the purpose-filled fun!
— Liza Holland, member since 2018
Established in 1920, the League of Women Voters works to improve our systems of government and impact public policies through citizen education and advocacy. The League is a grassroots organization, working at the national, state and local levels. There are Leagues in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands and Hong Kong.
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