Harbor Style Harbor Style March 2018 : Page 124

We welcome people of any party affiliation or no party affiliation to join the discussion and the process. “ ” “We welcome people of any party affiliation or no party affiliation to join the discussion and the process,” McGillivray said. The history of the local chapter does not follow a straight line from the 1960s to today. It came into being with 36 original members and has been “waxing and waning ever since,” Finks said. It waned to a nadir when it lost its official designation as a Florida chapter. It was reborn soon after, and the current incarnation is a continuation of that rebirth. “The fever has broken, and we are getting well,” McGillivray wrote in an email. For years, the local League of Women Voters was an animated voice in the Charlotte County conversation. It sponsored voter information seminars at election time and produced the Charlotte Citizens Guide. Its members served as volunteer registrars. It conducted a study of schools. It sponsored trips to monitor the Legislature. According to published reports, in the mid-1980s it was responsible for the first comprehensive study of water resources in the area. In the late ‘80s, it researched and produced more than a dozen detailed studies that led to Charlotte County’s adoption of its first comprehensive plan. In 1990-91, the league researched the first comprehensive study of the airport, its management and the adjoining industrial park. It reported on commissioners and the school board. So, it was busy. And it spoke to voters through its work. But then, it got quiet. It went silent – almost. There were any number of reasons, but according to published reports, one day in 2008 the membership had somehow dwindled to six – three if it was taken into consideration those who had not paid their $50 annual membership dues. The three who formed what was left of the organization – Paula Hess, Doris Conboy and Ingrid Carroll – had managed to host candidates forums before the November elections that year. But later they told a reporter from the Charlotte Sun, Steve Reilly, it was possible those forums could be the league’s last. There was too much work and not enough people. It was that simple. Because Charlotte County had only three dues-paying members, it was no longer considered chapter. It was defined as a member-at-large unit. “We came to the League of Women Voters as retirees, and now we are in our senior years,” Conboy told Reilly at the time. “It’s tough physically to keep up. We don’t have the manpower to recruit new members.” Carol Eliason, a former president, wrote in the April 21, 1998, Sun: “The death of Charlotte County’s League of Women Voters, following as it has on the heels of the demise of Tax Watch and the Concerned Citizens’ Coalition, leaves the ä 124 | H ARBOR STYLE

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