Making Democracy Work

Local League Positions

Positions Adopted by the LWV of the Holland Area

Local Land Use Position of 2003

The League of Women Voters of the Holland Area supports the concept of cooperative planning for the cities of Holland, Zeeland, Saugatuck, the village of Douglas, and the townships of Holland, Zeeland, Park, Fillmore, Laketown, and Saugatuck. The Macatawa Area Coordinating Council, formed from representatives of Holland, Zeeland, Holland Township, Park Township, Zeeland Township, Fillmore Township, Olive Township, and Port Sheldon Township, receives the League's interest and support.

This welding of separate units of government into a regional planning organization represents the ideal way to produce area-wide results, eliminate duplication and cross-purpose of efforts, and eliminate duplication of expenditures.

Land use policies should allow for proper supply of utilities, traffic systems, school and recreational needs, preservation of historical sites and buildings, and protection and improvement of natural beauty spots. Center city vitality should be maintained and encouraged; preservation of farmland should be considered in the context of urban sprawl and development.

Land use policies (planning, zoning and growth) should protect natural areas, forests, dunes, parks, wetlands, and wildlife habitat as well as air and water quality, and the health of residents.

Tax Abatement Position of 1997

As a result of the passage of Proposal A in 1994, and its effects upon school finance and local property taxes, the League of Women Voters of the Holland Area decided in 1995 to revisit its 1991 study on tax abatements. In that study, the LWV recommended that the state take a larger role in offering incentives to encourage industries to locate or remain in Michigan. Since that time, school operating levies have been reduced for businesses, property tax increases have been capped, unemployment insurance taxes have been cut, the Michigan Economic Growth Authority has been created, the Michigan Strategic Fund offers state approved bond issues to companies, and the Renaissance Zone Act has been enacted

We believe municipal and township governments in the Holland area should:
1. Elicit more public involvement and input in the P.A. 198 grant approval process and look at the future impact of grants and cost/benefit issues. Infrastructure and social costs, rapid growth in residential development, and sudden increases in school enrollments pose challenges for citizens who are concerned about controlling growth in the Holland area.
2. Continue to look at the quality of tax abatements to determine whether they meet municipal guidelines (e.g., to increase the average income level through promotion of higher paying jobs and to promote more skilled and technical jobs).
3. Grant maximum exemption periods for renovated or rehabilitated property, shorter exemption periods for new buildings, and still shorter exemption periods for tax abatements for machinery and equipment.
4. Periodically monitor or require reports from recipients of tax abatements throughout the exemption period to determine whether companies have substantially complied with terms of their applications or agreements regarding number of persons employed, employee wages, and business investment
5. Request municipal and township representatives to the Macatawa Area Coordinating Council to consider setting area-wide guidelines regarding the granting and implementing of tax abatements with a view to the economic and social health of the region as a whole.

Non-Partisan Policy of LWV

Adopted July 30, 1990

The purpose of the League of Women Voters is to promote political responsibility through informed and active participation of citizens in government. It is nonpartisan in that it does not support or oppose any political party or candidate; it is political in that it takes on selected government issues after member study and agreement through consensus.

The League recognizes the role of the political parties in a democracy and believes that participation in their activities is an essential ingredient of citizen responsibility. While the League urges its members to be politically active, certain constraints are necessary to maintain the non-partisanship of the group. Accordingly, the Board of Directors of the League of Women Voters of the Holland Area has established the following guidelines:

BOARD OF DIRECTORS: The Board of Directors has the responsibility of maintaining the fact of the non-partisanship of the League.

A board member may not speak or in any way work against a LWV position

If a board member is contemplating taking a major (paid or volunteer) position that might be inconsistent with the nonpartisan stance of the League, the situation should be discussed with the Board immediately.

No board member may run for partisan office but she or he may run for nonpartisan office (i.e., school board, city council, etc.) after consultation with the Board.

If a board member decides to run for an elective office or participate in some other activity which might be considered openly partisan, the member must resign from the Board before announcing candidacy. The resignation should be made public by the Board, explaining the policy which makes it necessary, and taking care not to give the appearance of endorsing the candidate. The resigning board member may be considered for the Board in the future.

The political activities of a spouse or relative of a board member are considered separate and distinct from the activities of the board member.

FURTHER CONSIDERATIONS: The President, Voter Service Chair(s), Public Relations Chair, and Action Chair, or anyone acting in those capacities may not participate in the following:

-Holding or actively seeking any elective office;

-Having an official position in a party organization, or in a group endorsing candidates for office;

-Participating conspicuously in campaigns in such a way as to publicly identify themselves with a certain candidate or position (e.g., yard signs, allowing names to be publicized as donors, although contributions are acceptable);

-Speaking at party organization meetings (attendance and voting are allowed);

-Carrying a petition for any candidate or non-League endorsed issue.

LEAGUE POSITIONS: Once League (local, state, or national) takes a position on any issue, members may not identify themselves as League members in publicly expressing an opinion that is in opposition to that position.

REPRESENTING LEAGUE: Members representing League in the community should be sensitive to their responsibilities. When acting in the public as League representatives, members must not allow partisanship to be apparent. These members must be fully aware of League positions.

COMMISSIONS: Members are encouraged to serve on governmental or community commissions. If the appointment is League-related, the appointee should be fully aware of League positions as they relate to the commission's responsibilities. Also, it must be understood that the League will not necessarily endorse the commission's positions or actions.

COALITIONS: The League may join a coalition with the coalition's knowledge of the LWV's nonpartisan policy. If the coalition decides to support or oppose candidates, the League should issue a statement disassociating itself from that aspect of the coalition's work.

LEAGUE MEETINGS AND PUBLICATIONS: Members in the leadership roles at any official League or League-sponsored meeting have the responsibility to ensure the nonpartisanship of the meeting and its environment. Only petitions related to League-endorsed issues may be circulated at League meetings.

League positions on issues shall not be indicated on or distributed with Voter Guides. Materials supporting or opposing issues may not be distributed at Voter Service activities by the League. However, if asked, a League representative may explainthe League's official position. Candidates may make available, but not distribute, their own campaign materials at Voter Service activities.

NOMINATING COMMITTEE: The Nominating Committee shall inform prospective nominees of the nonpartisan policy guidelines for Board members. The Nominating Committee Chair is responsible for ensuring that all members receive a copy of the nonpartisan policy. The Nominating Committee chair shall be sure that the Board reviews the nonpartisan policy at the annual Board orientation meeting. Revisions should then be considered.

CONTRIBUTIONS: The League's nonpartisan reputation is sufficiently strong that contributions from office holders or candidates can be accepted without being misconstrued as endorsements of those donors.

Diversity Policy

The League of Women Voters of the Holland Area, in both its values and practices, affirms its belief and commitment to diversity and pluralism. The LWVHA recognizes that diverse perspectives are important and necessary for responsible and representative decision making, and subscribes to the belief that diversity and pluralism are fundamental to the values it upholds.

Inclusiveness enhances the organization's ability to respond more effectively to changing conditions and needs, and therefore, the LWV of the Holland Area will in both principle and practice promote the inclusion and participation in any activity of the LWVHA all persons, what-ever their gender, race, creed, age, sexual orientation, national origin or disability.