Callie Poole, Mary Dozier and Ben Porter have found a partner in Mississippi University for Women.
Now Poole, Dozier and Porter will come together at The W to take the first step on a shared mission.
At 5:30 p.m. Thursday, March 9, in the Fant Memorial Library’s Gunter Multipurpose Room, The W’s Department of History, Political Science, and Geography and the Center for Women’s Research and Public Policy will team with Poole, Dozier and Porter to hold a launch party for the new chapter of the League of Women Voters in the Golden Triangle.
The party culminates three years of work started by Poole, who is secretary for the new chapter. Once she met Dozier and Porter, who agreed to serve as officers, the chapter could officially apply for league recognition. Since then, the organization and planning have kicked into high gear.
“When I moved to this area, I was disappointed at how difficult it was for me to find voting information about local candidates and propositions,” said Poole, who was born in Arizona and lived in Florida, Mississippi (Hattiesburg and Jackson), South Carolina, Arizona, California, New York, Japan and Alaska before moving back to Mississippi (Starkville) in 2017. She now lives in Columbus. “I have appreciated the voting information the LWV provides and wanted to become involved in collecting and promoting voter information for this area of the state.”
Poole said her move to Columbus allowed the chapter to expand its base to the Golden Triangle, which in turn led to her connecting with Dr. Kristi DiClemente, the chair of the Department of History, Political Science, and Geography at The W. That relationship enabled Poole to meet more people with ties to The W and, ultimately, led to The W getting involved in the launch party.
“I hope we can increase voter education and participation,” said Poole, who has a bachelor’s degree in psychology from Millsaps College and a master’s degree in education from Prescott College. “We are so grateful for the support of The W. I have heard from several folks at The W that our mission and vision align with that of The W’s, and I have recently learned there are classes on campus where students make voting guides to highlight candidates local residents may not know much about, which perfectly aligns with our work.”
Porter, who lives in Starkville, said he and Dozier have known each other for quite a while and that they relied on the League of Women Voters website for voting information when they lived in San Diego. Porter met Poole while working on a project at Mississippi State University, and Dozier met Poole at a couple of social events where they agreed to join her in her efforts to educate the residents of the Golden Triangle about issues and candidates.
Porter, who is the treasurer of the chapter, and Dozier, who is president, have committed to living nonpartisan public lives (not posting on social media in favor of any partisan candidates or working on any partisan campaigns) as part of the League of Women Voters rules in their two-year terms as officers.
“While voting in Mississippi has been more straightforward, there isn’t a lot of information I was able to gather on folks running, so I felt like I was a little bit voting blind,” said Porter, who has a doctorate in psychology. “I hope having a local chapter of LWV will help fill in that gap. I think the chapter will help inform voters about the issues and where candidates stand. With the student population being eligible for voting, we hope to help remove some of the barriers to students voting and, most importantly, help students make informed decisions at the polls regardless of their politics.”
Poole shares Porter’s enthusiasm and encourages community members to attend the free launch party that will include food, beverages and prizes. She thanked the state chapter of the League of Women Voters for providing funds to purchase refreshments, printed materials and raffle prizes for the party.
“We plan to have a guest speaker from our state chapter and a community poll,” Poole said. “We would like to tell the community a little about what LWV is and ask for community suggestions for our annual priorities, which we will set at our annual meeting this May. Folks also will have a chance to get to know us and to sign up to join our chapter or to get more information about it.”
For more information about the new chapter, go to: https://my.lwv.org/mississippi/league-women-voters-golden-triangle-area.
The chapter also has a Facebook page that you can access by going to: https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100089844552312