Hello members and friends of the League of Women Voters of Yakima County.

I want to first of all express my gratitude for the Leadership provided by Cheri Kilty this past year – her commitment to this community was infectious and made me excited to serve in this new role.   This first month has been a whirlwind as we are working to structure the committees and prepare for the work ahead.

I also want to offer my gratitude to Karen Pilon who has served as the Secretary of the League for multiple years.  I am so lucky to be surrounded by so many experienced members who hold the history of this organization.  Congratulations to Betty Van Ryder who will be taking on this role moving forward. I was recruited into the League by Rhonda Hauff 4 years ago – while we are sad to see her transition off the Leadership Team, we are grateful to continue to have her as an active member.   I also want to welcome Karri Livingston to the Leadership Team and serving as our Voter Services Committee chair – keep an eye out for e-mail from her as we move into the mid-term elections.  I also want to welcome Steve Hill and Dori Peralta Baker to the Leadership Team.

While I am still relatively new to this organization, my commitment and passion to my community is not.  As I mentioned at the Annual Meeting, being elected as the President this year was a huge honor – 100 years ago, my great-grandmother, Tillie Paul Tamaree (Kah-tah-ah) was arrested for inducing an Indian, not entitled to vote, to vote at an election. In 1922, she assisted a Tlingit relative in voting, which was considered a felony due to the fact that Native Americans were not automatically considered U.S. citizens at that time. The relative was tried in court and represented by my Great-Uncle William Paul (Shgúndi). Jones was acquitted and Native American people were given the right to vote, setting a precedent that was soon solidified in the Indian Citizenship Act of 1924. Being adopted, I never had the honor of meeting them, but their legacy holds heavy on my heart.

In the last mid-term election in Yakima County – only 4 out of 10 adults voted.  The reasons why people aren’t voting is varied, but I fear the biggest barrier is apathy and lack of involvement in the process.  One of my favorite quotes is from an Ecuadorian author and essayist Juan Montalvo – “There is nothing harder than the softness of indifference”.  Moving forward we are committed to combat that indifference through inclusion, education, organization, and ease of access.  If you haven’t yet joined a committee, please do – if you haven’t yet recruited a friend or neighbor to the league, please do.  In the words of one of my favorite organizations that is no longer with us, For a Better Tomorrow “If not us, who? If not now, when?”

Lee Murdock, League President