Other Voices: MaryJane Huenegardt and Tracy Pepper | TheUnion.com

Other Voices: MaryJane Huenegardt and Tracy Pepper

Other Voices
MaryJane Huenegardt and Tracy Pepper

Over the last year and a half, I (MaryJane) have been honored to serve as the League of Women Voters of Western Nevada County’s publicity director. This time period has been an exciting one for the League.

We’ve hosted relevant programs and forums, engaged with community organizations to empower voters with information, and partnered with dozens of local businesses to hold a wildly successful “Get Out the Vote” campaign driving voters to the elections. Thanks to the efforts of our membership director, we’ve well more than doubled in size, to 142 members.

The ride has been a blast. It is now time for me to pass the publicity baton to an extraordinary member of our community and League, Tracy Pepper. I assure you, I don’t use “extraordinary” in a fit of hyperbole-laden praise. Tracy comes to us as a past-president of the Fresno League of Women Voters, in which capacity she was a powerhouse coalition-builder in a community of disparate organizations (sound familiar?). She led the Fresno League to being a significant, yet adamantly even-handed, player in community politics, even going to Washington DC multiple times with coalition members to advocate and raise money for community causes.

We’re grateful to The Union for facilitating this changeover of a visible role in our community. I’m also grateful to Tracy for agreeing to share a few words describing her vision for this role and our League.

I, Tracy Pepper, gladly accept the League of Women Voters of Western Nevada County publicity director baton from MaryJane. Already in love with its natural beauty, wealth of activities, and kind, welcoming people, I am thrilled to be a member of this vibrant community. I welcome the opportunity to learn more about Nevada County, its strengths, its opportunities, and its challenges. As publicity director I am eager to begin working with League members, civic organizations, county agencies, and other community stakeholders to encourage citizen involvement in public policy through education and advocacy.

The League of Women Voters has a long and successful history of education and advocacy at all levels of government. The LWVWNC strives to remain unaffiliated with political “sides,” instead representing the community as a whole in a measured, studied way, while still moving toward action. The League has a commitment to collaborative approaches to community problem-solving and recognizes the benefit of broad-based coalition support for maximum results. I have had opportunities as a League representative to participate in, and view first-hand, the positive results that can be accomplished when thoughtful, informed folks come together to work for the good of their community — even when there are seemingly divergent and/or contrary goals.

In 2005, 20 community leaders representing local government, civic, and business organizations assembled to discuss ways to improve chances of receiving increased federal funding for much needed infrastructure improvements and other county-wide projects in California’s Central Valley. The process of Identifying and building consensus around which projects were to be included on the “ask” list, prioritizing those selected projects, then strategizing on how best to present them to our elected officials, was certainly not without heated debate or great effort. In the end, however, consensus was reached. Those efforts secured $1.5 million. Obviously, the community directly benefited from those efforts. However, the true value lies in the enduring benefits: improved overall community organization and working relationships which continue to bridge divides and strengthen the community.

Are there obvious areas of commonality on which we agree? Perhaps areas of intersection? I believe that a spirit of collaboration, consensus- and coalition-building can work at all levels of government, and I am excited to work with you. No matter your political persuasion or background, or affiliation, let’s explore opportunities to work together and to ensure that our diverse community voices are heard. One voice is good; two or more even better.

The League of Women Voters is a nonpartisan political organization encouraging informed and active participation in government. It influences public policy through education and advocacy. I invite you to learn more about the League of Women Voters’ policies and positions at lwvwnc.org.

Remember, democracy is not a spectator sport. Don’t sit it out!

MaryJane Huenegardt and Tracy Pepper are the former and current publicity directors, respectively, for the League of Women Voters of Western Nevada County.

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