League of Women Voters

Group's mission: Get informed on ballot issues, find young blood

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For any organization to survive, it must keep the attention of younger members. With that in mind, the League of Women Voters is asking itself why the age of members has hovered around 50 since the late 1980s.

"We are having a hard time getting younger members," president Catherine Lykken said. "I think it's a problem around the state. Most of us have been in the league for a long, long time and now we are all in our 50s and 60s."

Part of the problem, Lykken said, is that younger voters tend to be "single focused."

"They get interested in environmental issues or child care and welfare," she said. "But we spend time exploring everything from water laws in Colorado to international relations to natural resources. We don't just focus on one thing."

The purpose of the organization is to make sure members are informed voters. "That's the reason the league was started. ... To inform voters and to take action on issues that concern us," Lykken said.

The only rule of the league is that the group cannot take a position until it has studied the issue and taken a consensus vote on a position.

"We have to act. We cannot react," she said.

The group holds regular meetings, choosing one political issue each time. One member volunteers to do research and present findings. Discussion follows as the group decides how to act.

"It's a lot of work," Lykken said.

Wednesday, the group will meet to discuss state ballot issues. Colorado League of Women Voters President Lorie Young will attend Wednesday's meeting.

The Steamboat Springs chapter of the League of Women Voters disbanded in the early 1990s because members did not have the time to take on leadership roles.

"They would join, they would pay their dues, but the issue was 'who is going to do the work?'" Lykken said. "It's not an entertainment group."

The group decided to try again one year ago.

"Almost everyone who came to that first meeting was a former league member," Lykken said. Currently, the group has a dozen members, but it is looking for more people to join -- especially younger people.

"It's open to everyone -- men and women -- of voting age," she said.

-- To reach Autumn Phillips call 871-4210

or e-mail aphillips@steamboatpilot.com

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