Making Democracy Work

History of the Elgin League

The League of Women Voters started after women got the right to vote.

In her address to the National American Woman Suffrage Association's (NAWSA) 50th convention in St. Louis, Missouri, President Carrie Chapman Catt proposed the creation of a "league of women voters to finish the fight and aid in the reconstruction of the nation."  Women Voters was formed within the NAWSA, composed of the organizations in the states where suffrage had already been attained.

The next year, on February 14, 1920 - six months before the 19th amendment to the Constitution was ratified - the League was formally organized in Chicago as the national League of Women Voters.

Nine years later, in 1929, the League of Women Voters of the Elgin Area was established. Since that time, the local League has been very active in the community. Some of the positions from consensus that have transpired from 1983-2001 are:

2001 - Homeless & P.A.D.S.

The League of Women Voters of the Elgin Area believes that the Elgin community needs a permanent 12 month overnight shelter for the homeless.

We also believe the permanent shelter shall be a resource center to provide programs and services as a continuum of care.

Further, the Elgin League believes that the League shall take a position on specific sites as determined by the Board in each particular case.

1996 - Kane County Juvenile Justice Center

The Leagues (Kane and DeKalb Counties) support the formation of a Citizens Advisory Committee for the Kane County Juvenile Justice Center that would report to the Kane County Board.

The Committee would be a resource suggesting programs and activities that would increase community involvement in the Center. Members of the Committee would come from the judiciary, county board, community organizations, and youth serving organizations.

The tasks delegated to the Committee would be determined by its members. The Leagues also support access to physical health services on site at the Center and as needed in the community for the residents. Also, mental health diagnostic treatment and referral services should be accessible on site at the facility. Leagues support innovative educational programs for the residents of the Center.

Competitive salaries and ongoing training of Center staff to improve retention rates is supported by the Leagues. Also, adequate funding should be provided for alternatives to incarceration in the Center.

1988 - Opposition to Special Use Zoning for Metra Rail Yard

The League of Women Voters opposes the special use zoning for Metra to build a railroad yard south of National Street.

The League has a long history of preservation and protection of open space. We have especially encouraged conservation and natural development of the river front. We have testified before the city council on numerous occasions to open up the river front whenever possible as natural lands and park land. We have been most gratified with the development of the Fox River Trail.

To build a railroad yard on the banks of the river is an environmental anathema. A rail yard by its very nature is a destruction of natural area and an environmental polluter.

We are concerned about pollution of the banks of the river and the waterway from diesel fuels, oils and other matter generated by a railroad yard. The further destruction of wildlife within the area is at odds with League position. The river front should be viewed as an asset to the city of Elgin, not a dumping ground for trains. While the present area south of National Street is certainly of no great beauty, or could even be considered a natural wildlife area, it has the same potential to be developed like the Fox River Trail or as a more natural environment like Voyageur's Landing. This type of development would enhance the South Grove projects and demonstrate Elgin's commitment to the revitalization of the central city.

At a time when the city is planning the development and improvement of South Grove, building a railroad yard a quarter mile south on the Fox River is a step backward to an earlier time when the Fox River was considered a natural sewer. The city would be once again turning its back on the river.

We know that the city's thinking has progressed far beyond those early times and the city recognizes the Fox River as a natural resource that is an invaluable asset to our community. To build a new rail yard on the river fronts, thus destroying possible recreational or natural use for the enhancement of the city perpetuates the wrongs of the past.

This facility is not temporary, but one that will result in the lethal destruction of the area. This area has the same potential as the much admired river fronts of Geneva and St. Charles.

We will continue to oppose any development that is such an environmental disaster as a railroad yard on the river bank. Open space and the positive use of the river front as an asset to the city of Elgin is our goal.

We encourage the city to continue to work with Metra to accomplish the original goal of moving the present yards out of Elgin and off the river front.

1986 - Support of At-Large City Council System

The League of Women Voters of Elgin has taken a position in support of the current at-large election system for the Elgin City Council.

League members looked at the issues involved in the at-large versus ward election of Elgin City Council members and determined that the at-large method currently serves the interests of all the residents of Elgin.

We urge voters to mark their April 4 (1986) ballot for retention of the at-large election of council members.

1985 - City Manager form of Government

After an in-depth study of the three possible forms of government for Elgin, the League of Women Voters of Elgin reached the conclusion that council manager form of government has served Elgin well and should not be abandoned. All three forms available to Elgin started as reform types of government.

The council-manager form has been representative, accountable, and responsible to all citizens. The voters elect policymakers who can focus their energies on making policy and can employ a professional manager to administer those policies. This form of government takes advantage of the greater number of qualified candidates since it does not require a complete sacrifice of current jobs held by office holders.

Strong mayor form of government is untested and lacks sufficient checks on the mayor during his four-year term. It increases the possibility of political patronage with unqualified personnel holding key positions in city government.

The commission form appears unworkable in Elgin and is being dropped by many cities where it is still being used. The most popular form of government in cities of Elgin's size is council-manager.

1983 - Bluff Spring Fen

The League of Women Voters of Elgin recognizes the Bluff Spring Fen as a unique natural area providing an environment for the growth of many species of plant life that need preservation. It is basically inappropriate for the Metropolitan Sanitary District's plant because such use would have an undesirable effect on the ecology of the area. It is recommended that the area be designated as a natural area for preservation by the Illinois Nature Conservancy.

Since the area is owned by the Chicago Metropolitan Sanitary District and since the property is contiguous to the city limits, the City of Elgin would be the logical governmental body to annex the property. The MSD has not made any use of this property; the land is recognized as a flood plain by the Corps of Engineers; it is inconveniently on the far fringes of Cook County; and there has been a long-time lack of interest in the area by MSD.

The area is comprised of 170 acres. At the present time the goal would be to dedicate 90 acres with the Illinois Nature Conservancy and later develop the remaining areas as possible controlled recreation areas.

It is therefore essential that there be a strong coalition of nature groups willing to help the city in recommending protection, preservation and future development methods for this area.

See also League History from the League of Women Voters of the US.