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Members of the Westford League of Women Voters, on Oct. 12, celebrated 50 years of providing non-partisan informational programs on governmental activities and local elections.
Formed in 1967, the Westford League of Women Voters has been identifying crucial issues in town government since before Westford Community Access Television began telecasting governmental meetings. That year, the league set up an observer corps in which members took notes during board meetings and disseminated the information to residents. Observers identified issues and launched studies to recommend change, according to former League president Chris Kandianis, who addressed the gathering at the Westford home of member Rose O’Donnell.
At least three members of the observer corps later served as elected officials: Ellen Harde was the first woman to serve on the Westford Board of Selectmen. Judy Culver became a long-term member of the School Committee, and Denali Delmar served on the Planning Board and Library Board of Trustees.
League recommendations now woven into the town’s fabric include mailed notifications to every residence of upcoming Town Meetings and the creation of the “Guide to Town Meeting.” League members were also instrumental in the creation of the town engineer position for overseeing major roadway construction projects, and they helped establish a procedure in which elected officials set policy and appointed officials implemented it.
The keynote speaker was attorney and women’s rights advocate Fredie Kay, founder and president of the Women’s Suffrage Celebration Coalition of Massachusetts (www.suffrage100ma.org).
State Sen. Eileen Donoghue and state Rep. James Arciero attended the gathering.
The League’s ongoing work includes hosting Candidates Night, distributing candidate questionnaires and voter guides, and holding forums on issues affecting the town. Current steering committee members are: Laura Dickey, Diane Wood, Leslie Vieth and Donna Furman. New members are always welcome, said the committee members.
In February 1967, operating as a provisional League, 87 Westford women joined and 25 took part in a required ‘Know Your Town” study to meet the standards required to become a full-fledged local chapter. After four unit meetings and one general meeting at the end of that year, the Westford League of Women Voters became an official local League.
More About the League
The League of Women Voters, a nonpartisan political organization, encourages the informed and active participation of citizens in government, works to increase understanding of major public policy issues, and influences public policy through education and advocacy. Membership in the League is open to both women and men. Residents interested in learning more about the Westford League of Women Voters are encouraged to visit www.LVW.westford.org.
Residents interested in joining the Westford League may download a membership form here: http://lwv.westford.org/wp-