Making Democracy Work

News & News Releases

Check here for press releases, League news or updates on current events

Book Group Selection for January Meeting

The book selected by the group for the January meeting is "Pro: Reclaiming Abortion Rights" by Katha Pollitt. The meeting will be on Monday, January 12 at 10:00 am in New Buffalo.

Media Release: Lunch with the League on November 12

Join League of Women Voters members for lunch on Wednesday, November 12 at noon at Coach's Bar & Grill, 2528 W. Glenlord in Stevensville. League member Renee Reid-Smith will be the speaker and her topic is "Aging Well in the State of Michigan". This is an interesting subject for any of us getting older--or know someone else who is. Renee plans an informal, informative and interactive talk on this subject she knows very well. Amongst other
jobs, Renee is the gubernatorial appointed
Commissioner to the Michigan Commission
on Services to the Aging and represents our very own Area IV.

This lunch meeting is open to the public. Reservations are not required and attendees will be ordering off the menu. However, the event organizer would appreciate advance notice if you know you can attend. Please see the Calendar page at for more information.

Statement on Failure to Reschedule Upton/Clements Debate

The League of Women Voters of Berrien and Cass Counties regrets that we have been unable to reschedule the Upton/Clements debate as one of the campaigns has declined, stating that their calendar was full. The forum originally scheduled for October 16 was cancelled after we were advised Mr. Upton would be unable to participate.

The League views candidate debates as a critical part of our democratic process, whereby the candidates appear together to answer questions and debate the issues of the day and the citizens come to be informed before they cast their ballot.

Media Release: League/Fernwood Dinner with the Dean

Dr. Marie Lynn Miranda, Dean of the School of Natural Resources and Environment at the University of Michigan, will be the speaker at a dinner on Thursday evening, October 23 at Fernwood Botanical Garden in Niles. The event is being co-sponsored by Fernwood and the League of Women Voters of Berrien and Cass Counties.

Dean Miranda's topic is "Of Mice and Moms: Understanding How the Environment Affects Human Health". Dean Miranda is a native of Michigan who
attended Harvard for her Masters and
Ph.D. She has devoted much of her
professional career to research directed at improving the health status of disadvantaged populations, particularly children. She is the founding director of the Children's Environmental Health Initiative. At UM she is also a professor in the Pediatrics Department. At Duke, where she was on the faculty for 20 years, she received the university's highest award for teaching excellence. She also is known for her sense of humor. These qualities plus her intellectual firepower, promise an outstanding evening.

Reservations should be made by calling Fernwood at 269-695-6491 or online at The cost for the lecture and dinner is $29. Wine will be available for purchase. Please specify if you want the vegetarian option. Guests will be welcomed at 5:30, the Dean will speak at 6:00, followed by dinner.

Media Release for "Evening at the Gallery" Membership Event

An informal but elegant event is what the League of Women Voters' membership chair has in mind for this evening, from 6:30-9:30, at the Burnison Galleries, 15460 Red Arrow Highway in Lakeside. It will be an opportunity for the many League members to get to know each other better and for prospective members to learn more about the League. The League shines in election years, with its candidate forums and voter guides. Celebrate the League and the election season while enjoying refreshments and the piano playing of David Lahm.

For more information on the League of Women Voters of Berrien and Cass Counties go to

Media Release: League of Women Voters October 2014 Candidate Forums

The League of Women Voters of Berrien and Cass Counties and eight co-sponsors are pleased to announce four live, public candidate forums on three nights in one week in October. These events will give voters a unique opportunity to evaluate the candidates running for Congress, three state legislative districts in Berrien and Cass Counties and Berrien County district judge.

On Monday, October 13 District 59 state representative candidates Aaron Miller (R) and Mike Moroz (D) will kick off debate week at 7:00 at the Mathews Conference Center East at Southwestern Michigan College, Dowagiac Campus. This will be a particularly interesting and spirited race because it is an open seat, as term limits prevent incumbent Matt Lori from running again.

On Tuesday, the two judicial candidates for Berrien County 5th Judicial District Donna Bacolor Howard and Stephen Smith will meet in a forum co-sponsored by the Berrien County Bar Association. The time is 7:00 pm and the venue the Berrien RESA Conference Center in Berrien Springs. Judges can serve for a long time so it is important who the voters choose.

Thursday, October 16 will be a big night with back-to-back forums at the Mendel Center of Lake Michigan College, Napier Road campus. At 6:30 there will be a combined forum for state senate District 21 candidates John Proos (R) and Bette Pierman (D) and state representative District 79 candidates Al Pscholka (R) and Eric Lester (D). Then at 8:15 Fred Upton and Paul Clements, the Republican and and Democratic candidates respectively, for the 6th Congressional District will take the stage. WSJM will broadcast that debate and possibly the District 78 debate as well.

The eight co-sponsors are the Berrien County Bar Association, Delta Kappa Gamma Society International, Dowagiac Rotary, Dowagiac Chamber of Commerce, Four Flags Area Chamber of Commerce, Harbor Country Chamber of Commerce, Leader Publications and Rotary Club of the Three Oaks Area.

As is traditional with League forums, the first questions at each forum will come from the sponsors and then some from the audience, submitted in writing at the forum. The only exception is the judicial forum, where questions will come only from the sponsors because the types of questions to pose to judicial candidates are limited.

The forums will all be videotaped and available on You Tube and the LWVBCC website, thanks to a grant to the League of Women Voters of Berrien and Cass Counties by the Pokagon Fund. The Pokagon Fund and the League both understand the importance of voters actually watching the candidates answer issue questions in an unscripted setting.

All events are free and open to the public. For more information go to the League's website

"The League and Nonpartisanship" by Susan Gilbert

This article appeared in the December 2010 LWVBCC newsletter and has been circulated by LWVMI and the LWVUS leaders. Numerous local Leagues have asked for permission to reprint it in their newsletters.

It is not uncommon for outsiders, and even some members, to question how the League can be nonpartisan yet advocate on positions that, in the slice of time that is now, appear to be partisan. In the highly partisan climate that has developed in recent years, the League is one of the very few political organizations that is not in either the liberal/Democratic camp or the conservative/Republican camp. And we have members of all political persuasions and encourage them to get involved in politics. So members may be partisan but the organization is not. All this is hard for many to wrap their minds around.

The League is nonpartisan in that we do not endorse or support any political party or candidate for office. We don't rate legislators, we don't track their votes and we don't threaten them if they don't vote our way. Voter service is one of our main missions and we publish nonpartisan voter guides and hold candidate forums to help voters educate themselves beyond TV ads. Education is an important League function, and we try in our meetings and in this newsletter to inform our attendees/readers and stimulate them to think about issues in our world.

However, the League is also an advocacy group, and we have positions on issues that have been developed over the years since our founding in 1920 and are the result of study and consensus of the local Leagues nationwide. These positions are updated from time to time, but are basically consistent. The positions and platforms of the political parties, on the other hand, do change and at times they resemble our League positions, or not. But the League doesn't change or drop it's positions because they are currently those of one party or the other. And we do speak out!

An example is health care. The League has a position on comprehensive health care for all Americans. President Truman liked that idea too and President Eisenhower delivered a special message to Congress on January 31, 1955 recommending a comprehensive health program for Americans. Lyndon Johnson got Medicare passed and that took the pressure off for awhile. But President Nixon encouraged HMOs as a way to rein in costs and provide health care for more people. Then President Reagan came along and decided the free market was the best way to manage health care and the Republicans have basically supported this idea since. But clearly both parties have been on both sides of the issue.

The key is not to confuse politics with position advocacy.