Making Democracy Work

Member Stories

League members are capable, intelligent, and interesting people. Here are some stories.

Read stories about
Joan Lohmann
Sonya Margerum
Mariellen Neudeck
Eleanor Riggs

Mariellen NeudeckMariellen Neudeck
July 2011

Life in the League

I became deeply interested in the League in college when I learned the history if its beginnings in the Women's Suffrage movement, and I joined the LWVGL in 1968. I am proud of the role the League has always played in encouraging citizens to not only exercise their right to vote but also to study, discuss and influence public policy. The efforts made In the years I was President of LWVGL (1971 to 1973), remain relevant today.

The foreign policy units prepared League members for changes in American foreign policy regarding China. The consensus on unification of local governments was reached and widely noted. We agreed that a housing code was needed in West Lafayette. Leaguers felt that in addition to benefiting the students, who lived off-campus, such a code would prevent the spread of neighborhood blight and deterioration which we thought was beginning in the older areas of the community.

In a voters' service effort to increase public understanding of contentious issues, we sponsored an informational forum on "Lafayette Lake". The Army Corps of Engineers had proposed to dam the Wildcat Creek to create this lake and the proposal deeply divided the community. Our forum put representatives of the Corps, local governments and the Wildcat Creek Association on the same platform to present their viewpoints. The League's reputation for independent study of issues made us probably the only entity that could provide such an opportunity for clarifying the various interests.

Read a 1971 Journal and Courier article with Mariellen and the mayoral candidates.

Sonya MargerumSonya Margerum
June 2011

My experiences as a 50 year member of the Greater Lafayette League of Women Voters

Excerpt - "The League of Women Voters gave me my start in community affairs and educated me
in the importance of careful study and consensus before taking action. I would encourage
anyone interested in their community to get involved and meet some interesting women who want
to make a positive difference in the world."

Read the complete story.

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Joan LohmannJoan Lohmann
June 2011

Memories of the League of Women Voters

A look back over fifty years reveals . . . memories of my mother and mother-in-law as members of the LWV

. . . memories of my first LWV meeting where as a young mother I went in search of adult conversation and intellectual stimulation

. . . memories of my stage-fright before my first appearance on a LWV panel at a community meeting on urban renewal

. . . memories of a LWV workshop on how to lead a discussion--training I used in the League and on the job for the rest of my life

. . . memories of writing a script for a slide show on the need for a new county landfill

. . . memories of teaching my Girl Scout daughter to demonstrate a voting machine

. . . memories of leading a two-year study of economic and national security issues in United States foreign policy

. . . memories of attending a national LWV conference in Washington, D.C., on citizen education about issues of nuclear war and arms reduction; we were challenged to ask the basic questions; stimulate the dialogue; question the underlying assumptions; and reframe the issues--all techniques that have been useful throughout my life

. . . memories of sharing the ideas from that conference with other Indiana leagues through a newsletter and workshops

. . . memories of serving on the local LWV board as program chair to coordinate study and advocacy on multiple governmental issues

. . . memories of leading a discussion on immigration issues as part of the process to achieve a consensus for national LWV action and advocacy

. . . memories of lasting friendships growing out of the work we shared. Thank you all.

put caption hereEleanor Riggs
April 2011

Long time League Member Eleanor Riggs has been collecting political memorabilia, including buttons and autographs, for over 40 years. She has a button for every candidate for President of the United States, including winners and losers, both Democrat and Republican. Her collection dates back to 1896 when campaign buttons first appeared. Another large portion of the collection includes autographed pictures and personal letters from past and current politicians. She shared her collection with friends at an open house early in April 2011 at Westminster in West Lafayette.

Eleanor has been active in politics and in her community throughout her life. The picture she is holding shows Eleanor with Governor Otis Bowen and three others from Indiana at the 1972 Republican National Convention. The photograph just beyond her right shoulder shows her son Steve, a Congressional aide, with then Vice President George Herbert Walker Bush, at the Vice President's residence. The items pictured are only a small portion of Eleanor's extensive and fascinating collection. However, even more remarkable are the comments she makes about each item and what those comments impart about her lifelong dedication to family, community, and country.

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