Ron Wilkinson: Oklahoma League Delegate to National Convention
Ron Wilkinson, League of Women Voters of Oklahoma Board Member, was the state delegate to the League's 52nd National Convention in June.
Although he has served on various League boards since 2010, this was Ron’s first national League convention. We asked him a few questions about his experience.
Q: What is your overall impression of Convention this year?
A: The attendees seemed to be a group of well informed, public spirited individuals with a genuine interest in seeing that the cornerstone principle, the right to vote, is defended and expanded to all citizens. It's a rather invigorating environment when compared to the general trend among states controlled by governors and legislators that see democracy as a tool of personal power rather than a foundation of a democratic society.
Q: What is your impression of LWVUS leadership and staff?
A: I was impressed with the professionalism of the LWVUS leadership and staff. Unfortunately, this is clearly an organization that is understaffed and under financed. There is a keen recognition that the organization must lower the median age of the organization's general membership. The new Executive Director, Wylecia Wiggs Harris, is a step in the right direction.
Q: What are your thoughts about the future of our organization? (Note: Ron focused on the state League in his response, and has some interesting observations)
A: LWVOK exists in one of the tougher environments for a public interest organization. First, the general image of Oklahoma of those outside the state is approaching dismal. One learned speaker singled out Oklahoma and noted that a statistically valid study indicated that only 3% of Oklahoma adults could pass the test administered to those seeking to become citizens. Second, within Oklahoma there is dislike, distrust and disinterest in government. This leads to a population that is easily swayed by politicians promoting fear. This in turn turns off the electorate even more.
Involving people in public interest organizations like LWVOK becomes more difficult but infinitely more important. The citizens core liberties are more at risk than ever before. The League of Women Voters of Oklahoma must expand its influence, and its ability to see that the electorate receives education in the fundamentals of democracy. An action plan to carry out this goal is critical. So is enlisting the support of important donors. Few organizations are as appropriately positioned for this task as the League of Women Voters.