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LWV - Sonoma County
555 Fifth St. Suite 300O
Santa Rosa, CA 95401 
Phone #: 707-546-5943
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News / Articles

The Voter Summer 2023

Published on 7/5/2023
Empowering Voters. Defending Democracy.
Your Vote is Your Voice

The Voter
The official Newsletter of the League of Women Voters of Sonoma County.
Volume28, Issue6
In this Issue:

Annual League League Meeting Report
Monday June 26

Annual Meeting Highlights

The annual member meeting is where we complete important League business including adoption of our annual budget, election of officers and board members and hear reports from our various committee chairs. This year we also had a report from our 2023 State League convention delegates and a presentation from Supervisor Susan Gorin, who is both a League member and a past league president.

Budget: Our Treasurer, Linda Rosen, presented the proposed budget for 2023-24 which was developed by our budget committee and recommended by the League Board. We will have a slight deficit for the year, but we have reserves to cover those expenses. The members voted to approve the budget as presented.To see the newly adopted budget, click here:
Budget for 2023-24

Nominating Committee Report: Susan Novak, Nominating Committee Chair, thanked the Nominating Committee members, DeeDee Bridges, Karen Weeks, and Judie Coleman for their service on the committee. She then nominated the following slate of candidates:

President: Donna Roper
VP, Administration: Lee Lipinski:
VP, Advocacy: Jim Masters
Secretary: Debbie Mc Kay
Treasurer: Linda Rosen
Board Members:
At Large: Chris Riezenman
At Large: Lynn Dooley
Communications Chair: Juanita Roland
Membership Chair: Judie Coleman
Program Chair: Leona Judson
Voter Service Co-Chair: Karen Weeks
Voter Service Co-chair: Therese Scherrer

Two positions remain vacant: Executive Vice President and Outreach Chair.
There were no nominations from the floor and the members voted to accept the slate of officer and board members are recommended by the Nominating Committee.

The various Committee Chairs provided highlights of their activities this past year. The Annual report on these activities is available on the League website in our annual 2022-23 report

2022-23 Annual Report

Our main speaker, Supervisor Gorin, shared information on her journey to becoming a member of the Sonoma County Board of Supervisors, including what she learned during her term as League president, her term on the Santa Rosa School Board and as Mayor of the City of Santa Rosa. She will retire at the end of her current term and is looking forward to becoming more active in our League once she leaves office. She shared some of the more interesting projects she has worked on as Supervisor including the Sonoma Development Center transition, the challenges of affordable housing and homeless solutions, the establishment of the Sonoma and Springs Municipal Advisory Councils, and monitoring the Sonoma Ground Water Basin.

Link to Presentation

2023 LWVC Convention Report
by Donna Roper

Convention recordings and handouts available at:

Besides the rudimentary chores of reviewing the bylaws, budget and selecting the new board (congratulations to Sonoma County member Jody Nunez on her election), many workshops were presented. Leona Judson, Theresa Scherrer and Donna Roper were Sonoma County’s League representatives.

It was Moved & Approved to keep these four issue areas:

  1. Making Democracy Work
  2. Climate Change & Sustainable Development
  3. Housing and Homelessness
  4. Criminal Justice / Juvenile Justice Reform

One workshop featured Mr. Chris Johnson of Success Stories.https://www.successstoriesprogram.orgThis organization aims to help men in prison to change the negative narrative of their lives to a more positive feminist one through a 12-week curriculum.

Additionally, there was an Update on Health Care: The New LWV Position and the CA Commission Report. The speaker, Dr. Henry Abrons gave an overview of work being done to get universal health care for CA. There are bills working their way through the legislature to cement finances and to overcome other barriers. He gave a convincing argument that such a plan would save money and broaden benefits.

It appears that Immigration will become an issue for the League in the future. There are a couple of pending bills in the California legislature that provide for anyone to receive food assistance regardless of their status.

We came away with lots of ideas on strengthening our League, taking on advocacy issues, voter registration and outreach programs with a special focus on 2024

Countdown to 2024: Community Outreach for GOTV Success

  • Number one take-away:Personal engagement is critical.
  • Form alliances and collaboration with community groups, faith organizations, clubs - groups that can deliver credible messages within their communities.
  • Tailor communication tools to those community members use, e.g. Instagram, Facebook, Facebook Messenger Telegram, Google Ads, Tik Tok.
  • Use voter databases, e.g. Political Data Inc. (PDI) database, All In (national student PIRG database) to identify under-represented groups; track results of outreach efforts. Use traditional outreach methods, including tabling, phone-banking, text-banking, robocalls, and door-knocking.
  • Continue to reach out to community groups between elections – not just every 2-4 years.
  • Promote the League at the DMV and other places where almost every citizen has to go.
  • Wider distribution of voter guides
  • Invite media to the forums
  • Use the DEIB guide from the state
convention delegates
convention sponsor

Scales of Justice
Lunch with the League
Honoring the 2022-23 Grand Jury

Several members gathered at Charlie’s Restaurant in Windsor on Flag Day, June 14thto honor the outgoing Grand Jury. By all accounts, everyone had a good time and, in the process, learned a great deal about how the Grand Jury does its work.Each year 19 people are randomly selected plus some alternates in the event someone drops out. The grand jury is made up of at least three committees. The first is the plenary committee that reviews each request for investigation to see if certain criteria are met. Next, the investigative committee gets to work, which involves interviewing heads of departments and other government entities, touring facilities, reviewing relevant documents. They do have subpoena power. Lastly, the editorial committee will write up their findings & recommendations. Throughout this process there is cross checking and verification between the committees.

The grand jury is truly a labor of love. The time spent on average is about 20 hours per week. There is no designated staff to help with the work, although they do get training & support at the state level primarily through the CA Grand Jurors Association. They work as volunteers earning only reimbursement expenses, which averages about $300/month. Despite the long hours and low pay, the jurists were enthusiastic about their contribution in their role as watchdog over local government. Their investigations bring transparency to the workings of our government byrecommendingwhat could be improved. The grand jury report is now out, so remember what these dedicated ordinary citizens have done this past year on our behalf. Want to see past reports of the grand jury?

Grand Jury
Grand Jury Luncheon

The Fight Continues

Celebrating SCOTUS Victories...

Democracy had its day in June with two major wins in Supreme Court (SCOTUS) cases.

InAllen v. Milligan, a case in which LWVUS, LWV of Alabama (LWVAL), and partners submitted an amicus brief,SCOTUS upheld a lower court ruling thatAlabama must create a second majority-Black congressional district.

"Today the Supreme Court affirmed the rights of Black voters in Alabama to elect the leaders of their choice," said Kathy Jones, president of LWVAL.

SCOTUS alsoaffirmed our democratic system of checks and balancesinMoore v. Harper, rejecting the dangerous "Independent State Legislature Theory" (ISLT). LWVUS and Leagues from all 50 states and DC previously filed an amicus brief focusing on the massive implications of ISLT for elections and democracy.

Per League CEO Virginia Kase Solomón, "Today’s decision is a major victory for our democracy because it rejects the dangerous idea that state legislatures have free rein to determine the rules for elections in their states."

As of this email's sending,SCOTUS was still poised to rule the League-involved case303 Creative LLC v. Elenis, which centers around the claimed right of a business owner to refuse services based on clients' sexual orientation.

...While Still Fighting After Losses

Activists rallying after the Dobbs decision in 2022

June closed on a decisiongutting affirmative actionin college admissions.

"Today’s devastating ruling will lead to less racially diverse student bodies, further disenfranchise people of color, and harm our democracy," said League President Dr. Deborah Ann Turner.

June also marked the anniversary of several cases whose repercussions are at the heart of LWV's work.

Theanniversary ofShelby County v. Holdermarked a decade of reduced protections under theVoting Rights Act.

"Each year, the number of restrictive voting bills introduced in states continues to grow, showing a vested effort to disenfranchise millions of voters nationwide," LWV Chief Counsel Celina Stewart observed inher blog on the anniversary.

This month also marked four years since SCOTUS ruled that federal courts cannot rule on partisan gerrymandering inLeague of Women Voters of North Carolina v. Ruchoand one year since the constitutional right to abortion was overturned inDobbs v. Jackson Women's Health Organization.

A Redistricting Lawsuit in Indiana

LWV of Indiana, partners, and two individual votersfiled a lawsuitagainst the city's Common Council for failing to draw new district mapsbefore the redistricting deadline, violating state and federal law.

"Local redistricting cannot be the forgotten mandate," saidLinda Hanson, co-president of the League of Women Voters of Indiana. "Decisions made by the City Council directly impact the lives of Andersonians, and their maps must be redrawn to give each resident an equal voice."

Message from Our President
Donna Roper


The Board revisited our partnership policy for two reasons. One – to better explain to our candidate forum partners what is expected and the second – to reach out to a more diverse population. You can find the new policy on our website under member resources / references / procedures. One of our long-standing partnerships has been with the Sonoma County library so Debbie McKay and Past President Marsha Dupre met with our new librarian, Erika Thibault and the Library Commission Chair, Deborah Doyle. The League and the Library are very interested in deepening our partnership and perhaps making it more formal. The Library will continue to list the League as a resource on their website under voting and will periodically submit articles for the Voter. We hope to table at their events such as book sales and perhaps do join presentations on topics of interest to the community. The two library reps recently spoke at a Monthly Monday Member Meeting.

The other reason the Library is a good partner for us is their emphasis on involving more teens by establishing a teen advisory board at each library. We can collaborate with them on getting teens to vote and in civic engagement. We will have many opportunities for League members to help with this partnership especially at your local library. Please contactpresident@lwvsonoma.orgif you are interested.


Gay Pride Parade
Standing for the Rights of All
Table at Courthouse Square
On duty at Old Courthouse Square for LWVSC

Lee Lipinski


Highlighting Our Wonderful Volunteers

Lee Lipinski, our VP pf Administration,manages our League office, including opening the mail and forwarding it to the appropriate person, collecting checks and forwarding them to our treasurer, assisting the Youth Program keep their materials organized, arranging for League materials to be translated into Spanish and resupplying our handouts,and assisting with keeping the Community Outreach Box (rolling Blue Box) up to date. She also keep our office organized and performs many other duties. A BIG THANK YOU to Lee!

Please contact Lee Lipinskivpadmin@lwvsonoma.orgif –

  • You need to reserve the Conference room at the League office for a League meeting as there is a calendar that is used to reserve the room
  • You need to check out the Outreach box for an event
  • You need the number to access the office key in the lockbox
  • To find out the official hours the front door to the building where the league’s office is located is open

Tree Protection Ordinance
by Jan Randal

Chair of the Advocacy Committee’s

Subcommittee on Climate Change


Protecting Native Trees

I love trees and feel fortunate to live in Sonoma County with its abundant biodiversity of native tree species ranging from redwoods and oaks to pine trees and bay laurel. Because trees are an essential part of our biological communities, strengthening the Tree Protection Ordinance should be of interest to League members.

Why care about trees? Trees, especially older, mature trees, store and sequester carbon essential to efforts to mitigate climate change. Trees provide habitat and refuge for more than 300 wildlife species and thousands of insect species in Sonoma County. Mature trees reduce flooding and soil erosion and help to maintain pure drinking water. Trees also provide aesthetic and visual value, are part of our cultural and historical heritage and are important for recreation. To some of us, trees provide spiritual and religious value.

The existing Tree Protection Ordinance from 1989 is limited, and Permit Sonoma has been revising it for presentation to the Planning Commission and County Supervisors. The old ordinance protects only 11 of 50 native tree species in Sonoma County, applies to a limited number of permits within the Zoning Code, and exempts agricultural activities.

The proposed Tree Protection Ordinance is more inclusive with stronger protections than the older ordinance. These changes include:

  1. Update and expand the species list to include more native trees.
  2. Update the ordinance to apply to all actions involving the removal of protected tree species over a threshold diameter.
  3. Change the diameter on protected trees from 9 inches to 6 inches at breast height.
  4. Apply the Tree Protection Ordinance to any project in the County that removes protected tree species. Tree removal would continue to be allowed but would require mitigation in more circumstances than in the current ordinance.
  5. Remove the agricultural exemption from all protected tree species to make agricultural activities subject to the ordinance. An alternative is to exempt maintenance of existing cultivation areas involving incidental tree removal but limit tree removal for expansion of cultivated areas into previously undisturbed land.
  6. Develop additional protections of oak trees and oak woodland to prevent their continued loss.

Permit Sonoma will tentatively present their revised ordinance to the Planning Commission on August 3rd. Please attend this and other meetings to advocate for strong protections of our native trees in Sonoma County.


Leona Judson, Outgoing VP

Revised County Well Ordinance.

This was a Close to Home letter sent to the PD. To date it has not been published.

California has a long history of droughts pushing its water supply beyond limits. Now, extreme droughts caused by climate change bring even more severe pressures on water resources. The League of Women Voters of Sonoma County is concerned about the effects of climate change and the lack of oversight of water use and protection of the public trust resources(includes fish, wildlife, habitat, recreation)in Sonoma County. California Coastkeeper Alliance was so concerned about the unregulated and wasteful groundwater pumping in the Russian River watershed that they filed a lawsuit in June 2021. The lawsuitaccused the County of approving hundreds of wells without proper analysisof how they affected the public trust resources.The County settled with the California Coastkeeper Alliance by paying their legal fees ($325,000) and agreeing to alegal settlement that required the county to develop a new well ordinance.

To its credit, Sonoma County quickly initiated the process of amendments to the old county ordinance that regulated well drilling. The League has followed this process carefully and members attended many of the public meetings. We conclude that the amendments County Staff presented to the Board of Supervisors, and which were adopted on April 18, 2023, lack sufficient protection of the public trust resources as required by state law.

How are the amendments inadequate? Let us count the ways:

  1. The opportunity to adopt realistic water usage for wells in the county was lost when the County recommended using 2-acre feet of water for average residential use and did not adopt the suggested and more realistic 0.5-acre feet. Two-acre feet is 651,702 gallons of water a year! This is a preposterous amount of water, especially when the state indoor water-use standard is 55 gallons per person a day.
  2. The revised ordinance allows NEW wells up to 2-acre feet per year to be drilled without analysis of the cumulative and possibly acute impacts of these new wells on existing wells, and it also ignores any impacts on the interconnected groundwater and stream flows.
  3. The ordinance, as written, is based on speculation rather than on actual data, and it relies on voluntary conservation measures. If science is to be incorporated into policy, the usual and best way is to measure and collect data and then draft the policy. Without monitoring water use, there are and will continue to be no facts to determine whether the public trust resources are being protected. To quote former League President Supervisor Gorin, “You can’t manage what you don’t measure”.

  4. The amended ordinance does not require measurement of existing water extractions for “smaller” wells. Permits will be reissued without evaluation of the cumulative impacts and without a requirement to measure, let alone reduce, the overall use which is overdrawn in some areas.

    New wells present a potential risk to public trust areas. Roughly 45% of the wells drilled from 2017-2021 were located on parcels that intersect the Public Trust Resources Area (PTRA). To protect the PTRA, the County must require (1) a reasonable limit of 0.5 acre foot per year on the amount of water new wells can extract with the ministerial (over the counter) permit, and (2) measure the amount of water actually being used by all wells.

California “water wars” will continue until measures are taken to mitigate water usage, and extreme weather from climate change will make future action even more difficult. Sonoma County can do its part by passing well ordinances that require measurement and data collection, require reasonable water usage of existing wells, and limit the drilling of new wells.


Welcome a New Member


Jody Nunez

Jody is new to our league but not new to the LWV. She has been an active member in the Oakland chapter since 2012. As a recently retired public defender for Alameda County, she has a passionate interest in social justice. She has worked at the county level in several capacities as well as the state level helping to ensure well qualified judges with her service on the California State Bar Judicial Nominees Commission as well as the Review Judicial Nominees Commission. Best of all she was just elected at the LWVC convention as a director. Congratulation!

She and her partner recently moved to Sebastopol and have been busy remodeling their home. In her spare time Jody is an avid baker and enjoys gardening. Our advocacy committee looks forward to working with her.

Vote with hand


Voter Service


Therese Scherrer &

Karen Weeks,Co-Chairs

LWVSC Voter Service gears up for election season just around the corner!

Planning is underway for candidate forum volunteer training for roles of Zoom Host, Co-Host, and Moderator. Sessions will be offered this Fall. The committee provides this opportunity for new volunteers and as a refresher for returning volunteers. Each forum requires a team of six in addition to the videographer and language interpreter. Your participation is welcome!

Voter registration activities are ongoing during the summer months at farmer’s markets, parades, and fairs. This service ensures that members of the public can be registered ahead of upcoming races. Volunteers provide staffing at events to share information about the League and the importance of voting. Eighteen volunteers are lined up to distribute voter registration forms to ninety-two sites in preparation for the potential Special District elections in November 2023, and the 2024 Spring Primaries for County Board of Supervisors.

Sonoma County is a Voter’s Choice Act County, using the Vote Center voting model countywide since the Primary election in 2022. The Voter’s Choice Act requires elections officials to renew their Election Administration Plan 2 years after initial approval and hold public meetings to review and accept public feedback regarding the plan.As a partner in this effort, League members, Karen Weeks and Jim Masters have reviewed the draft plan. Public input deadline is June 20. More information:

Thank you to all the Voter Service volunteers who educate, inform, and register Sonoma County voters. To volunteer for Voter Service activities, please contact Karenklweeks55@gmail.comor

Join us at our monthly meetings to learn more. The next meeting is on August 10that 10am. See details on the LWVSC website.

LWVSC Calendar


Coming Events

Check theOnline Calendarfor the latest schedule

and for location or links to virtual meetings.





July 20, 2023: Moderatedby Sukey Robb-Wilder

Confessions of a Union Buster,by Martin Jay Leavitt, 302 pages, 1993

With compelling vigor and rich detail, Levitt tells the tale of his rise to union-busting fame and fortune and his equally dramatic change of heart. Using manipulation and propaganda, the busters wear down the union organizers and transform the war on organized labor into a billion-dollars-per-year industry. While some of these tactics have been outlawed, I find his bold story entertaining and quite timely, given current (2022) efforts to unionize and to thwart grassroots unionization.


August, 17, 20203: Suggested by Linda Allen:

Invisible Childby Andrea Elliott 624pages, 2021Pulitzer Prize winner.

A “vivid and devastating” (The New York Times) portrait of an indomitable girl—from acclaimed journalist Andrea Elliott. A work of luminous and riveting prose, Elliott’s Invisible Child reads like a page-turning novel. It is an astonishing story about the power of resilience, the importance of family and the cost of inequality—told through the crucible of one remarkable girl. In Invisible Child, Pulitzer Prize winner Andrea Elliott follows eight dramatic years in the life of Dasani, a girl whose imagination is as soaring as the skyscrapers near her Brooklyn shelter. In this sweeping narrative, Elliott weaves the story of Dasani’s childhood with the history of her ancestors, tracing their passage from slavery to the Great Migration north. As Dasani comes of age, New York City’s homeless crisis has exploded, deepening the chasm between rich and poor.



Zoom Meeting
June 2023
Debbie McKay,Secretary
June 10, 2023
Finance Report:Our League received a one-time bequest of about $26,000. The strategic use of one-time-only funds will be discussed at the Board retreat in August. The Board is investigating funding sources to cover the ongoing costs of Spanish translation at forums.

State League Convention: Our Voting delegates, Therese Scherer, Leona Judson and Donna Roper, provided a summary of the Convention. There were many excellent workshops and resources shared. We will be determining what information applies to our local League. Jody Nunez from our local League will be serving on the State League Board beginning in July.

Joining other groups: Linda Rosen reported that we have joined Los Cien as a non-profit agency. The following board members agreed to be our official representatives: Lee Lipinski, Debbie Mc Kay, Leona Judson. Karen Weeks and Donna Roper, who are individual Los Cien members, agreed to help with partnering with Los Cien.

Membership:Everyone whose membership expires in June will receive an email reminder to renew. Please contactJuanita Rolandif you need help with renewing your membership

Monthly Meetings: The Grand Jury member presentation was our July Monthly Meeting. There will be no Monthly Meeting in August. The September 25thMonthly Meeting will be our Annual Kickoff Meeting. Watch for emails on a presentation by adisinformation expert for the October Monthly Meeting.

Fire Safety:League member, Deborah Epstein, joined the Board Meeting to provide information on the County’s lack of compliance with state regulations on development along narrow roads in the unincorporated areas of the County.

Calendaring Events & Email Blasts: Sue Jackson, Susan Novak, and Lee Lipinski will assist with posting events in the calendar and sending out email blasts.

Voter Service: In the fall this committee will do training on how to conduct forums and host Zoom meetings. We will also begin exploring possible partners and sponsors for the forums, using our new policy on partnerships.

Interns: We have a new intern who will begin working with us in August or September. We had a sendoff for Evan Farmer, who was our Spring Semester Intern.

Volunteer Opportunities: The last person following housing issues has decided to step down, so we need a volunteer to follow housing issues.

We still have not filled the Executive VP position which serves as an assistant to the President. If you are interested in applying for this volunteer position, please email Donna Roper

We currently do not have a chair for Community Outreach which coordinates our having a League presence at community events. Community outreach involves contacting with potential volunteers,coaching volunteers about what to do at events; reminders about what, where, when; support the day of; a big thank you afterwards; and a debrief about what worked and what could be improved. League members can provide this support without needing to chair a meeting or serve on the Board. If you are interested in joining this effort. Please send an email to

Los Cien and the Boys & Girls Club:Karen Weeks and Debbie Mc Kay will be meeting with Magali Telles, Ex. Dir. for the Boys & Girls Clubs in the Roseland area, and members of the Los Cien Board of Directors, to talk about how we can partner with both organizations

June26, 2023

Renewals: Club Express sends three emails to those who have not renewed their membership within a month of its expiration. However, some members have experienced difficulty in completing their renewal. Members are advised to contact Juanita Roland for assistance with renewals or dues payments. Send an email

Expired Memberships:Donna Roper lead the board members in a review of past membership totals and a list of those who have not renewed since 2017. There was a general discussion on how we could encourage those who have dropped their membership to rejoin.

Annual Report: There was a general consensus that the annual report shows we have accomplished a lot, especially because all the work is done by volunteers from our membership. Go Team! If you haven’t seen the report yet go to2022-23 Annual Report

Board Retreat:The Board retreat will be held onAugust 5that 10:30 am at Spring Lake Village.The main topic of the retreat is updating our Strategic Plan, reviewing how we want to strategically allocate (spend or invest) one time only money, and what type of expenses are an appropriate use of such funds.


Connect with the League

We want to hear from you!
LWVSC Board of Directors

Contact Us

Donna Roper, President
Lee Lipinski, VP Administration
Debbie McKay, Secretary
Linda Rosen, Treasurer
Jim Masters, VP Advocacy
Judie Coleman, Membership
Open, Community Outreach
Karen Weeks. Therese Scherrer, Voter Service
Leona Judson,, Programs
Juanita Roland, Web, Communications
Lynn Dooley,Chris Riezenman, Member at Large

Some Useful Links
LWV of
LWV of the United




Join Us
League of Women Voters Sonoma County
555 5th St, Suite 300O
Santa Rosa, CA 95401
We'd love to have you join us. The most direct way to join is to go to our web sitehttps://www.lwvsonoma.organd click on theJoin Usbutton to fill in your contact information, preferences, and even pay your dues online, or you can print out your invoice and send it along with your dues to our office. If that does not work for you, you can fill out the information below and send it to us. Judie Coleman, is always available to answer your questions.
Individual Membership $75
Household Membership $110
Elizabeth Cady Stanton Membership $100
Carrie Chapman Catt Membership $200 or more

Additional Household Member: ____________________________________
Email: ________________________________________

Please circle any topics you are interested in knowing more about:

Voter RegistrationCandidate ForumsTransportationHousing/Homelessness Climate Change Immigration Newsletter Website ManagementLocal Governance
Membership dues and donationsare tax deductible to the full extent allowed by law

Here are some links of interest.
LWV Sonoma Web Site
LWV Sonoma YouTube
555 Fifth Street, Suite 300O
Santa Rosa, CA 95401-8301
(707) 545-5943