The Results of Our 2019 Program Planning Meeting Are In!

The League of Women Voters held our 2019 program planning last Thursday, February 21. This meeting determines what issues our chapter will focus on for the League year. Our goal was to make this meeting more interactive, more education-focused, and more democratic for our members. We have more than 350 members in our chapter and wanted to include as many people as possible to help set the priorities for this year. About 75 participants RSVPd to attend. 

We began the program by asking anyone who wanted to bring an issue to the group to give a 90-second elevator speech on their topic. During this time, anyone can have the floor. If you arrive and have a program, you can stand up and make a plea to the group to adopt it.

“If you want to lobby for dolphins, stand up here and talk about dolphins. But we want you to have action items and goals for what you want to do with them,” said LWVSPA first Vice President Dr. Linsey Grove.

Each subject needs to tie in with the goals of the state and national league. For the 2019 program planning meeting, we had nine issues brought to the group:

Plant Power

“The mission is to save ourselves and our planet, one bite at a time.”

  • This aligns with the league values of sustainability and healthcare.
  • We will host outdoor movies, publish fact sheets, take urban gardening outings, and help people learn to make smarter food choices.
  • Most importantly, we will eat good food.

Election Protection

“We need to recruit and train volunteers to help voters cast their ballots in a fair and educated manner.”

  • We will have volunteers at polling places at each election.
  • We want to funnel these volunteers to become poll workers for the county.
  • We plan to advocate for voters’ rights and educate community groups.

National Popular Vote

“Honor the will of the people and make every vote for president or vice president count.”

  • We plan to educate community members and lobby legislatures to pass this bill.

Reproductive Rights

“We must uphold the constitutional right of women to make independent reproductive choices.”

  • Our team is fighting 20-week and 6-week abortion bans.
  • We want to advance bills to protect citizens from fake clinics.
  • We are also promoting comprehensive sex ed in Pinellas County.

Gun Safety

“The issue of gun violence is very much in the news, but for the wrong reasons. People are getting shot and killed, both adults and children.”

  • We are working to develop relationships with police, clergy, community leaders, etc.
  • We want to encourage safer storage of firearms.  
  • Our goal is also to fight to pass universal background checks on gun sales.


“There’s a lot of misinformation out there about immigration. Some of this is intentional, some of it is because the issue is so complicated.”

  • We are educating local residents about immigration issues and the people affected by them
  • We are lobbying members of Congress for national immigration reform.


“Encouraging solar, fighting climate change, we’re doing all kinds of cool things!”

  • Some of our issues include banning fracking, sewer laterals, and waste reduction.
  • We are working with community solar and rise above plastics.
  • We want to keep working on the great projects that we started.  

Voter Services

“We are encouraging citizens to register to vote, and to educate them on the candidates, issues, and ballots so they can make informed choices.”

  • We are preparing for the 2020 election.
  • We have a 365-day active election guide.
  • Our committee hosts panels. Election forums, and educational discussion on the issues.  


“$29 billion is distributed to Florida based off of census data. We need to make it count.”

  • We are making hard-to-reach communities (renters, low income, LGBT) are counted.
  • We plan to educate community and League members for how they can get involved in the census.
  • We are addressing the citizenship question on the 2020 census.

After the elevator speeches, everyone in the audience had 60-seconds to write down questions about the issue or presentation. These questions could focus on the facts surrounding particular issues or the campaign ideas behind the presenters.

We had runners going to each table picking up questions and bringing them back to the presenters.

When we opened the room up for discussion, these questions served as talking points for the presenters to address any concerns about their ideas. We wanted to make sure everyone had time and space to ask questions and talk to the action leads so they could make an informed decision about whether they wanted to support the issue. Plus, this made the event more informal and created a science fair feel in the room.   

Participants also received 10 popsicle sticks, which they could place in mugs placed at each booth. This was used to measure how much a topic meant to the audience as a whole. For example, if you are very passionate about reproductive rights, you could drop all of your popsicle sticks there. However, if you care about each issue equally, you could leave one or two popsicles in each mug.Program Planning 2019

This method allowed people to vote not on a yes or no level, but on a percent level. We could set priorities based on the interest and will of the group. We use these popsicles internally to gauge interest in an issue.     

After our members had 20-30 minutes to wander around the room and talk to the presenters, we reconvened to vote on the issues we wanted to support. Each participant had a green card and a red card. As we went through the issues, attendees raised their hands with green cards in favor of an issue and red cards against it.

All of the presented issues passed with the majority of votes. These issues will now go to the board for further discussion and approval. Our members now have a strong idea of which issues we are taking on in 2019 and how they can get involved. Thanks for coming out to our 2019 program planning meeting, we look forward to seeing you at an upcoming event!

LWVSPA Program Planning 2019


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