New Member FAQ

When does the League of Women Voters of Newton meet?

The LWVN has member meetings every month from September until April or May.  Most of the time, these are called “topic” (formerly called “unit”) meetings, because we will be learning about or discussing a particular topic (see our Topic Meeting Archives). Members of the public are welcome to attend. In December, we forgo a topic, and just party. In May or June, we have our Annual Meeting, and besides having a nice dinner and a speech from someone interesting, we vote in a new board and decide where we will focus our efforts during the next year.

We also meet in subcommittee. We currently have subcommittees working on education, the environment, housing, municipal finance, elections and voter service. These meetings are usually at a member’s home and are listed on our calendar. Other subcommittees are formed as the interest and need arises.

Our board meetings happen every month. All members are welcome to come and participate! Check the calendar for dates.

We also hold occasional public forums for the wider community. These are usually educational.

What does the Newton League support?

The League only works on issues that have been adopted as official “positions.”  Once we have a position, we can act on it.  For instance, our position endorsing recycling means that we can lobby for more or better recycling programs. (To learn more about the League’s use of “position” and other League terms, see Glossary of League Lingo.)

Your Member Handbook (published every other year) includes the Newton League’s current positions, and they are also posted on our Local Positions page. There are also state and national positions that we support.

We vote on any proposed changes to our local positions, as well as on our focus for the coming year’s work, at our Annual Meeting, held each spring.  Changes to the state and national positions are made at their respective conventions; the Newton League is entitled to send voting delegates to both.

How does the Newton League make decisions?

The League makes decisions carefully, following procedures established over many decades on the national, state, and local levels. While this means that the League can take longer than other organizations to come to a decision, most League members believe that this approach ensures thoughtful and meaningful action.

Issues or requests for action usually come through one of our subcommittees, although individual members (or groups that aren’t formal committees) are welcome to propose actions as well.  For example, a committee might decide that it wants to write a letter to the Board of Aldermen or the Newton TAB to lobby in support of, or opposition to, a particular item. (Note that such letters are always signed by the current League president(s), not by the person who actually writes it.)

Proposals for action must be presented to the board for approval. When an action falls under one of our existing positions, the proposal cites the position the action supports and the reasons action is needed.   The board then votes to decide whether to take a particular action.

When the action does not fall under an existing position, however, the process is a bit more complicated. Before taking action on something new, League procedures require that a formal study process be undertaken.  The result of a formal study is a written document that proposes a new position for the League to adopt.  The study and proposal are presented to the membership at the next Annual Meeting, and the whole membership votes on whether to adopt the new position.

What is the Newton League working on?

Each subcommittee has its own agenda for the year, as outlined in the Annual Meeting Workbook.

  • For 2012-2013, the Environmental Issues Committee (EIC) continues to be very busy.  The committee has been focusing on water issues and the environmental impact of proposed developments in Newton.  For 2012-2013, the Transportation Study Committee is continuing to review Newton’s transportation system and will hold consensus meetings to approve new transportation positions for recommendation to the 2013 Annual Meeting.  Two extremely success ful transportation forums, on traffic and on parking, were held in 2011-2012.
  • The Housing Committee has continued to work with the city’s Housing Action Plan Initiative (HAPI) to make more affordable housing available in Newton.
  • The Education Committee is planning a two-year local education consensus study.
  • The Elections Committee will continue to work with the City Election Department to enhance the recruitment and training of Newton’s poll workers, and will attend Newton Election Commission meetings.
  • The Municipal Finance Committee is planning public forums, including one on “Budget 101” and will review and analyze the City’s budget.
  • The Topic Meetings Committee has planned a number of informative and timely monthly presentations.  Please check our calendar for dates and topics.
  • This fall, the  Voters Service Committee will publish a Voters Guide for the November state election and hold Candidates’ Debates for contested races.  The committee continues to register voters at Newton’s Farmers’ Markets and City Fairs.

We also regularly work with the state and national Leagues on state and national issues.

Where can I find out what League jargon means?

Become an instant expert! Check out LWV National’s Glossary of League Lingo.

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