In "Find a rendering plant": MNGOP senate hopeful's Facebook pals take low road on LWV, Bluestem posted about a Facebook flame against the League Of Women Voters by endorsed Republican Minnesota Senate District 54 Leilani Holmstadt and some of her fans' uncouth comments.
The League of Women Voters Minnesota has issued the following response to Holmstadt's rant:
A recent article in the SWC Bulletin regarding Leilani Holmstadt’s opinions about the League of Women Voters (as found on her campaign’s official Facebook post) calls into questions the 97-year history of the League of Women Voters Minnesota and our work on behalf of all Minnesota residents. The League grew out of the suffragette movement and its successful effort to secure passage of the 19th Amendment giving women the right to vote. Since that time, the League’s members have focused their volunteer time on voting rights and voter education.
Are readers aware that League members volunteer at every citizenship ceremony registering thousands of new voters and welcoming them as part of our democratic process? If you’ve never attended a naturalization ceremony, I urge you to do so to witness the joy and enthusiasm our newest voters share on that day.
From our earliest days League has been actively engaged in protecting the Constitutional right to vote for all citizens. We do this through education and advocacy. Our voter education efforts are best seen during election years when Leagues all across Minnesota host hundreds of candidate forums. These forums are often the only opportunity voters have to compare candidates’ views side-by-side. The questions are submitted by voters and reflect the concerns of the community. Our other educational work is done on the issues Minnesota faces. Were you in the audience for a community forum on sex trafficking? How about the one on racial equity? Preventing gun violence? Cultural diversity? Community policing in the wake of the shooting of Philando Castile? Had you attended any one of these or any other League forum, you would have learned that League brings together diverse points of view and conducts a civil discussion where all voices are heard.
Ms. Holmstadt also called into question the League’s position on various issues. Our Program for Action can be found on our website at lwvmn.org. In it, readers will learn that League’s positions on issues are arrived at only after our members research and study issues, hold thoughtful discussions, and arrive at a consensus. Many of our positions predate current topics by decades. In it, our positions on topics ranging from clean water to education to government transparency. But, to clear up just a couple of Ms. Holmstadt’s misstatements, please allow me the courtesy of providing facts (and the dates these positions were adopted):
Gun Violence — “Protect the health and safety of citizens through limiting the accessibility and regulating the ownership of handguns and semi-automatic assault weapons, and support the allocation of resources to better regulate and monitor gun dealers. (1990, 1994, 1998)
Immigration — “Reform should promote reunification of immediate families; meet the economic, business and employment needs of the United States and be responsive to those facing political persecution or humanitarian crises. Provisions should also be made for qualified persons to enter the U.S. on student visas. All persons should receive fair treatment under the law. (2008)
Reproductive Choice — “Protect the constitutional right of privacy of the individual to make reproductive choices. (1983)
Finally, the League of Women Voters Minnesota is a 501(c)3 nonprofit nonpartisan organization. The League does not endorse candidates for office or political parties. Membership is open to all regardless of gender, citizenship or political point of view. League members do “prowl the halls” of the Capitol, as Ms. Holmstadt wrote. Did she mean to imply that citizens should not be participating in our government or advocating for things like the rights of children, protecting the environment?
Had Ms. Holmstadt, attended the candidate forum held earlier in the week for the SD54 race, she would have participated in a thoughtful discussion of topics voters in her district care most about. Her failure to appear was noted and will be seen by all those who view the video on your community access television station. Voters across Minnesota are turning out for candidate forums in unprecedented numbers because they want access to candidates and to know that the candidates will hear their concerns and represent their interests. Her decision not to participate short-changed the voters of SD54.
I would welcome the opportunity to meet with Ms. Holmstadt and to provide her with additional background about the League’s work. Perhaps together we could attend an upcoming naturalization ceremony and register voters? Together we could hear first-hand about how much voting and our democracy means to our newest voters. I hope she will take me up on this invitation
Terry Kalil, President
League of Women Voters Minnesota
Kalil mentions Scott Wente's article in the South Washington County Bulletin, Holmstadt cites League of Women Voters' advocacy in refusing to take part in candidate forum. Wente reports in part:
. . . League organizers had a chair and sign for Holmstadt next to her opponent, Democrat Dan Schoen, but removed the sign when the forum started. The moderator announced Holmstadt was invited but was not participating. The League’s policy is to allow a candidate to participate even if the opponent does not.
“It’s unfortunate my opponent isn’t here tonight to visit with us as well,” said Schoen, DFL-St. Paul Park, who currently represents House District 54A. The other Republican candidates, House District 54A’s Keith Franke and House District 54B’s Tony Jurgens, participated. . . .
Bluestem has to wonder if voters in the district are impressed by her hard-shell conservative views and refusal to engage with the impure.
Photo: State Representative Dan Schoen, DFL-Cottage Grove, answering voters' questions, without the pleasure of his opponent's company. Photo by Scott Wente, via the South Washington County Bulletin.
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