Tagged with " League of Women Voters"
May 21, 2019 - Uncategorized    1 Comment

Saratoga school board vote today: Lakhtakia, Woytowich plus 1

I thought the choices would be easy. I was mistaken.  

School board candidates touched on numerous topics during informative and civil forum hosted by League of Women Voters, whose online voter guide is a great resource.

The budget vote and school board elections are today, and I’m still torn about the candidates. If you live in the Saratoga Springs school district, you’re going to have to decide for yourself which of the seven candidates competing for three seats best match what you’re looking for.

I listened to all seven address myriad questions at a forum hosted by the League of Women Voters of Saratoga County at the high school May 8, reviewed their responses to the questions on the league’s website (an excellent public service), read the individual writeups in The Saratogian, noticed lawn signs, reviewed mailings, noted the Saratoga Springs Teachers Association endorsements, and chatted with one, Natalya Lakhtakia, who knocked on my door when I happened to be home.

Based on all of the above, the two candidates I feel most strongly about voting for are Natalya Lakhtakia and Connie Woytowich. I came away from the forum impressed by their smart, direct, thoughtful answers, their approach to education issues, and their highly relevant professional and personal experience. They seem passionate and reasonable. By the way, they have opposite views about whether the district should bring back armed monitors (Woytowich says yes, with training and evaluations; Lakhtakia wants only active duty officers armed). I’d like them to win, though I pity the headline writer.

I’m wavering about my third choice.

Longtime resident John Kaufmann expressed my thoughts precisely in a May 19 post on his Saratoga Springs Politics blog, where he wrote: “Any of the candidates running for the three seats open on the Saratoga Springs Board of Education would serve the district well. … All of them care deeply about our schools, and it is to their credit that they are willing to take on the very demanding job of being a school board member.”

Not one of the seven is a single-issue candidate. However, three – Ed Cubanski, Dean Kolligian and Shaun Wiggins — are running as a team in multiple mailings paid for by “Saratoga Parents for Safer Schools,” formed to reverse the current school board’s decision to disarm school monitors. Woytowich shares that goal but decided not to be associated with the group after it attacked candidate Heather Reynolds as an “anti-school safety politician.”

I respect Woytowich for this demonstration of civility for a fellow candidate. It’s inane to claim that anyone on or running for the school board does not care about the safety of the students and staff at our schools. To their credit, Cubanski, Kolligian and Wiggins have not, as far as I could tell, spouted such nonsense.

Meanwhile, Lakhtakia, John Bruggermann, and Reynolds (the only candidate with board experience, seeking her second three-year term) are more quietly being touted by those who don’t want the monitors re-armed. It takes a while to learn the ropes on a school board, and Reynolds’ investment and willingness to stick with it shouldn’t be ignored.

Without any explanation that I could find, the teachers union endorsed Kolligian, Lakhtakia and Bruggermann. Apparently neither the arming monitors issue nor being an educator and union member were deciding factors.

Four of the candidates are educators – Reynolds, Lakhtakia, Woytowich and Bruggermann. Most of the candidates have long track records in a variety of community service roles, many involving children. There are candidates of color. Three of the seven are women. All are invested in this community, personally and professionally. I regret that I’m giving candidates short shrift in this writeup.  

My best advice is to make use of the League of Women Voters first-rate voters’ guide that lets you see, read about and compare the candidates. I also recommend you read over the school board-related posts on John Kaufmann’s blog for some insight that could affect your decisions. Then get over to whichever elementary school is your polling place between 7 a.m. and 9 p.m. and make your voice count.

I’m grateful so many are willing to serve. And since a third of the nine-member board is up for re-election every year, those who don’t make it this time can still be active and perhaps run again.

Mar 20, 2019 - Uncategorized    No Comments

Pull up a chair and listen to 12 takes on democracy in Saratoga

Our democracy was created as an experiment, and so is the democracy-inspired event you’re invited to sit in on Wednesday at Caffe Lena in downtown Saratoga Springs.

You’ve heard of TED (Technology, Entertainment, Design) Talks. Well, on March 27, come hear LED Talks — League Embraces Democracy.

The League of Women Voters of Saratoga County put out a call for people who’d like to speak for a few minutes (no notes allowed!) on various aspects about making our democracy work. I’m intrigued by the varied backgrounds and interests of the dozen people who were chosen and excited about the angles they selected to address.

The two-hour, free event begins at 7 p.m. March 27; doors open at 6:30 and space is limited. I get off easy as facilitator; you and I get to listen, learn and have fun.

The ground rules for the speakers prohibit the promotion of one political party over another, but rather ask that they address issues and solutions in a knowledgeable, interesting, and engaging way. In other words, we’ll be keeping it civil, but not dull.

Speakers (who’ll be on stage between five and eight minutes each) include award-winning storytellers, a beekeeper, educators, a well-traveled GE retiree, healthcare professionals, and political candidates (successful and not).  The speakers and their topics are:

·         Margaret French: Coming to America  

·         Kathleen Quinn: Not Just for Us Hippies: What Cooperatives Can Teach Us about Democracy 

·         Michael Belanger: Taxation with Representation: The Underpinnings of National Sovereignty 

·         Cynthia Cook: Democracy, Privacy, and Technology 

·         Eva Hawkins: Why Third Parties Matter and Why They Should Get More Media Coverage 

·         Lezlie Dana: Democracy, Change, and the Courage to Believe 

·         Kate DuddingThe Story of One American Soldier 

·         Kathy JohnsonLiberty and Justice for All  

·         Annarosa MuddDe-escalating the Fight: How Arts Help Compassion and Problem-Solving 

·         Tara Gaston: The First Rule of Ballot Fight Club 

·         Norah BrennanTime for Democracy  

·         Linda Salzer: We Must Vote!  

This is the third event in the League’s Democracy Series, and the first of its kind in the very cool Caffe Lena at 47 Phila St. Food and beverages will be available (their chocolate chips are to die for). Learn more at www.lwvsaratoga.org.

Feb 19, 2019 - Uncategorized    No Comments

Take 10 minutes at the mic to talk about making democracy work

You know you have something to say about what’s at stake for our democracy in our current political climate. Here’s a chance to tell your story.

The League of Women Voters of Saratoga County is recruiting speakers for its inaugural L.E.D. Talk — modeled after the well-known TED Talks – a free event slated for 7 p.m. March 27 at Caffe Lena in Saratoga Springs.

Interested participants should complete the one-page application at www.lwvsaratoga.org/led-talk by Feb. 28 or call 518-728-5201 with questions. Those selected will be notified by March 3. 

Speakers will each have up to 10 minutes to talk about any issue related to making our democracy work. Examples include, but are not limited to, the importance of voting, the power of resistance, the importance of the arts in a democratic society, the impact of social media, youth enfranchisement, and the politics of inclusion. Or whatever’s on your mind.

Ground rules: Talks should not promote one political party over another but rather address issues and solutions in a knowledgeable, interesting, and engaging way. Speakers may not use notes (I didn’t make the rules, I’m just relaying the league’s announcement) or multimedia, but will have the opportunity to experiment with story-telling as they educate the audience.

I’ll have the privilege of facilitating the event, and I’m looking forward to hearing what you have to say. If you prefer to just listen, note that the March 27 L.E.D. Talk is free and open to the public; doors open at 6:30 and food and beverages will be available from the Caffe Lena menu. If you know someone who might like to be heard, please share this.