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The League of Women Voters conducted its first local meeting in years on Wednesday with the purpose of restarting the Cache Valley chapter.

LWV is a nonpartisan civic-engagement organization that has existed for over a hundred years. In addition to encouraging women to vote and providing resources to help them engage in democracy, the organization also conducts research studies and holds government at all levels accountable.

The Cache Valley chapter was last active in 2003. Board members from the Salt Lake chapter attended Wednesday’s meeting to talk about the responsibilities, principles and structure of local leagues and the organization at large. Turnout was good for a first meeting, according to Director of Local Leagues Kathy Fitzgerald. Fifteen people were in attendance.

Lou Ann Exum Sakaki and Nancy Huntly were both interested in restarting the chapter because of a need for “civic and nonpartisan discussion” in the valley. Exum Sakaki moved to Cache Valley three years ago from California and was surprised to see there was no local chapter.

“I’ve always looked to the organization as a beacon of integrity and nonpartisanship,” she said. “When I read my voter information booklet each election time, opinions offered by the league always carried more weight than those of interest groups, candidates or political parties.”

Huntly and Exum Sakaki hope that by restarting the league there will be more opportunities for political discussion in the valley.

“I think that a local League of Women Voters will provide opportunities for calm, open, well-informed discussions of important issues in our communities, as well as more opportunities for us to learn together and find widely beneficial solutions for challenges our communities face,” Huntly said.

“I also feel grateful to the women and men who previously formed a strong, active Cache Valley League of Women Voters, and I want to help renew that positive civic opportunity now.”

For Fitzgerald, once she received interest about restarting the Cache Valley chapter, she then needed to reach out to locals in the area who would be willing to help gather interested men and women for a meeting. She called the process a “team effort” and noted how hard people like Exum Sakaki and Huntly worked to make this happen.

“Working with the League of Women’s Voters, you get to meet the most dedicated, best-informed, most active citizens you’ll ever meet everywhere,” she said. “They do this because they are dedicated, believe in democracy, promote democracy and the vote among all eligible voters.”

Interested participants can go to www.wlv.org to learn more or visit www.vote411.org, created by the league, to view information about upcoming ballots, statements by candidates, register to vote or check registration status. The league offers a structure so members can watch legislation as it’s being made.

“I’m hopeful that the local presence and activities of the league will encourage more people to become informed on the issues at all levels and to get involved in civic affairs,” Exum Sakaki said.

Membership is not required to attend local meetings. At the moment, the next meeting time is undetermined as Fitzgerald, Huntly, Exum Sakaki and others continue working on paperwork to make the chapter official.

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