League of Women Voters-Cy-Fair works to educate voters on local issues

Leah Stephanow, a member of the LWV-Cy-Fair leadership team, registers voters in the Ravensway subdivision.

Leah Stephanow, a member of the LWV-Cy-Fair leadership team, registers voters in the Ravensway subdivision.

As election season approaches in Texas, the local chapter of the League of Women Voters—a nonpartisan political organization—is helping voters get informed.

Before Marlene Lobberecht, chairwoman of LWV-Cy-Fair, was introduced to the nearly 100-year-old organization, she was working in Cy-Fair ISD and researching for the American Association of Family & Consumer Sciences. She said she noticed a disconnect between the research and what was actually happening in universities.

“There was no dialogue,” she said. “One of the things that I saw was we needed to do more public policy work.”

When Lobberecht first moved to Texas, she said one of her mentors was the state president of the LWV at the time. With her research background, Lobberecht was able to contribute to the studies the group conducted on policy issues.

In the following years, she said she began to realize many people felt overwhelmed when it came to advocating at the state legislative level. As a LWV member, Lobberecht compiled the Texas Advocacy Playbook, a free eBook used by Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts and public policy classes in universities across the state.

LWV focuses on informing the public with facts and letting them form their own opinions, she said.

“I was active in the Houston League, and at the time Cy-Fair ha[d] maybe 50,000 people,” she said. “I didn’t like that [when we had issues] out here you would have one meeting and then you never heard anything else.”

Lobberecht said the Houston chapter had different concerns than her Cy-Fair neighbors, and forming a local group allowed them to discuss issues that were important to them. Members identified transportation, safety, flooding, education funding and municipal utility districts as their top priorities.

Since launching in October 2016, the Cy-Fair chapter has hosted forums on high-speed rail, public education, flooding, advocacy training and a legislative session recap. At LWV forums, representatives from both sides of the issues are present, and they must accept questions from the audience.

LWV also provides candidate guides for state and local elections at www.vote411.org and registers voters at community events and high schools.

Those interested in joining LWV can do so starting at the age of 16. Individual memberships cost $55, and family memberships cost $75.

Lobberecht said during her time with LWV she has learned that communication with decision makers is the key to making change. She also said she appreciates the nonpartisanship aspect of the group, which allows for productive conversations on both sides.

“[Dialogue] can be constructive, and actually more can happen when you have pro and con in getting an issue resolved than if you have everybody in 100 percent agreement,” she said. “I learn more from people I don’t agree with so I can understand where they’re coming from.”

The League is hosting issue-focused forums this spring at Juergen’s Hall Community Center, 26026 Hempstead Road, Cypress. All events are open to the public.

March 29: Crime in the Cypress area
May 10: Opioid crisis and mental health

League of Women Voters-Cy-Fair
By Danica Lloyd

Editor, Cy-Fair

Danica joined Community Impact Newspaper as a reporter in 2016. As editor, she continues to cover local government, education, health care, real estate, development, business and transportation in Cy-Fair. Her experience prior to CI includes studying at the Washington Journalism Center and interning at a startup incubator in D.C., serving as editor-in-chief of Union University's student magazine and online newspaper, reporting for The Jackson Sun and freelancing for other publications in Arkansas and Tennessee.


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