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It’s election season, a time when asking questions, gathering information and discussing issues takes on added importance. 

The League of Women Voters, a nonpartisan organization, helps play a critical role in informing the public on major issues through open dialogue. Now its members are inviting women — and men — of the South Suburban area to step forward and join the League, say current members.

The Homewood-Flossmoor League of Women Voters is recruiting for new members, inviting them to a Drinks and Dialogue event at 7 p.m. Oct. 15 at Grape and Grain, 18031 Dixie Highway. 

It used to be that League members joined by an invitation to a League meeting or event. League President Syvia Tillman joined in 1999 after an invitation to the League’s annual holiday party. 

Tillman believes joining the League used to be a way for women to get involved in their community. It offered a social gathering as well as a say in local politics. 

Now it’s “more of a challenge,” says League Vice President Erin Roeper “We’re struggling with ways to attract young people.” 

The first local League began in Flossmoor in 1929 and a Homewood League was founded in 1950. The two Leagues merged in 1972. The League has been responsible for helping with the opening of the Public Action to Deliver Shelter (PADS) program and working with public officials to get the curbside recycling programs in Homewood and Flossmoor. 

The group touts itself as non-partisan creating a space for a civilized discourse.

“We want the people to speak up and be heard,” said Roeper. Most recently, the League was in charge of the Homewood-Flossmoor High School candidates’ debate before the April board election.

The League has a strict process for determining the issues it will lobby for.  The group first performs a study and then utilizes the data from the study to help determine its position. The League disseminates its findings to the chapters, which review the data and come to a consensus. 

Each local League then submits its position to the state organization, which develops a consensus of what the League’s lobbying position is on local, state and national issues. 

At the League’s September potluck, Illinois Reps. Al Riley (D-Hazel Crest), Anthony DeLuca (D-Chicago Heights) and Will Davis (D-East Hazel Crest) were invited guests. Riley, who holds membership in the League, said he likes that the League encourages its members to call about issues rather than signing or emailing a pre-written letter. Often, Riley said those notes, “on an important bill (mean) I’m getting what someone else wrote for you.”  He prefers the personal touch.

In an attempt to gain visibility, the League has hosted a booth at the Homewood Farmers Market to register voters, talk about its work and offer civic quizzes. Members also registered voters at the Homewood Public Library on National Voter Registration Day Sept. 22.

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