Written by Phil Cerroni
By Jessie Burke
The Irving League of Women Voters met at the West Irving Library to review their current league support positions on Feb. 26.
The meeting was a preliminary one, not to vote on positions, but to act as a refresher for members on what issues in Irving the league currently finds important and to encourage members to start researching them.
“It’s important to have these sort of reviews in the league, so we can make sure that we are putting forth our efforts where they are most needed,” League president Mona Wyatt said. “We need to see where we may have accomplished all we can, or where an issue may have already been resolved, and then continue to focus on taking action where it is still needed.”
For new member Barbara Doyle, the meeting was an opportunity to learn about what the League supports, and more about the issues in Irving themselves.
“I joined the league because I wanted to get involved in the community,” said Doyle, who was previously a member of a New York league chapter. “It’s extremely important to me to be aware of what is happening in your area, to get the word out, to do what you can to make a change.”
The League Program consists of a limited number of governmental issues chosen by the membership for study and action. Issues presented at Tuesday’s meeting were divided into eleven categories; Child Care, Mental Health, Urban Planning, Administration of Justice, Mass Transportation, Irving Public Education, City Public Libraries, Youth Substance Abuse, Waste Management, Kids at Risk and Domestic Violence.
“When examining an issue we need to first see if it’s something we’re passionate about, something we really want to see change,” Wyatt said at the beginning of the meeting. “After that, the next step is to see if there is something we can do about it. If it is a state or federal issue, then there is not a lot of action we can personally take. If it’s local then there is a lot more we can do.”
Wyatt did say, however, if it is something bigger that they feel strongly about, they can recommend it to the Texas State League for consideration.
There were several issues discussed during the meeting that many members already feel passionate about retaining: in particular, education and school budgets. Texas has recently fallen to 49 out of 50 in the ranking of school spending per pupil in the U.S., which is a great concern for the people of Irving who care about the success of their students and hope to see that ranking raised in the coming years.
Another city program where several members of the league wanted to see a change is recycling. In Irving, residents wishing to recycle must currently purchase a roll of blue bags from the city, or local grocery store, in order to put out their recyclables.
“For some people going out and getting those bags, or having to pay extra for them is difficult,” programs co-chair Dagmar Metzler said. “I would like to see that made easier for everyone. I believe making it more convenient would do more to encourage the people of Irving to recycle.”
Before the league can officially decide together what to continue taking action on, Wyatt encourages members to collect further information and review the issues on their own, in order to make informed decisions. As the league is nonpartisan, all programs are viewed and presented in a non-biased way.
“We don’t approach any issue from a particular party,” Wyatt said. “Rather we say ‘Why is this important for everyone?’ When we go to a member of congress we are able to say not only what we want changed, but why something needs to be done with facts and research, and why it is important for everyone, not just why we personally think it is.”
The meeting is a prelude to the League convention in May, during which they will present which programs they wish to pursue for the following year. Once the league chooses to take action on something, they do so through lobbying on the appropriate government level, presenting the League's views at public hearings, sponsoring correspondence or interviews with public officials, campaigning for public support, and forming or joining group coalitions.
“We are passionate about Irving,” Metzler said. “This our community, we are passionate about making a change.”