May 18, 2022

League of Women Voters encourage communication at legislative gatherings

Jasper County group invites legislators to Newton Public Library for constituent engagement

To keep citizens informed of what is going on at the statehouse, the League of Women Voters of Jasper County have invited residents to attend regularly scheduled legislative gatherings on the third Saturday of January, February and March at the Newton Public Library.

The public gatherings will be held 10 a.m. Jan. 22, Feb. 19 and March 19 at the library, 100 N. Third Ave. W, in Newton. The local League of Women Voters will invite representatives of Jasper County’s House and Senate Districts, including: Jon Dunwell, Zach Nunn, Amy Sinclair and Jon Thorup.

Bonnie Pitz, state board member of the League of Women Voters of Iowa, said in addition to being an informational forum for the electorate, the group’s legislative gatherings give legislators an opportunity to listen to concerns or answer questions from their constituents.

“The league really believes in voters being informed,” Pitz told Newton News. “It’s a big deal to hold those candidate forums (prior to elections). Those things are just priceless. We absolutely want those to be in place. But once candidates are elected and are in the statehouse, we want to continue the dialogue.”

By the time legislators attend the first gathering, the Iowa Legislature will have only just convened for the year. Still, the lawmakers will be able to give their valuable first impressions to constituents, keep voters informed on their upcoming priorities and provide insight on early issues.

Recently, Newton News published a number of articles detailing some of the early priorities of Jasper County’s legislators. Pitz said the gatherings could expand upon those topics. It is going to be good for the community to hear those types of goals from the lawmakers themselves, Pitz added.

“For instance when you talk about the visibility of property taxes, what exactly are you talking about? And so citizens can have (Dunwell) explain that to them,” Pitz said of Dunwell’s goal for better property tax transparency. “It’s good to have that communication.”

The League of Women Voters of Iowa has its own state pubic policy priorities, such as equal access to voting, government accountability and transparency, rethinking the approach to criminal justice, protecting the state’s natural resources and the environment and improving health of Iowans, among others.

Discussing the issues is a huge part of the legislative gatherings. With the amount of inaccurate information shared through social media these days, Pitz suggested events like these could be more beneficial to voters than scrolling through Facebook or Twitter feeds.

“They get the straight information from their elected officials,” she said. “Then they know where things are at and they have a better sense … With these opportunities, the legislators are showcasing themselves and how they’re going to help the community of Newton.”

Contact Christopher Braunschweig at 641-792-3121 ext. 6560 or cbraunschweig@newtondailynews.com

Christopher Braunschweig

Christopher Braunschweig

Christopher Braunschweig has a strong passion for community journalism and covers city council, school board, politics and general news in Newton, Iowa and Jasper County.