Meet the 2015 Spirit of the League Award Recipient: Adele Fasick

We recently interviewed Adele Fasick to learn more about her service

Adele Fasick has contributed years of service to the League of Women Voters of San Francisco, most recently as the representative in the LWVSF seat on the San Francisco Ballot Simplification Committee. The League of Women of Women Voters of San Francisco will be honoring Adele Fasick with the Spirit of the League Award on March 19th at the Women Who Could Be President Gala.

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We recently interviewed Adele Fasick to learn more about her service.

 

What brought you to the League of Women Voters of San Francisco?

When I moved to San Francisco in 1996 and saw my first California ballot I realized that voting here is very different than it was in other states I had lived in. I needed to understand ballot measures and a listing in a neighborhood newspaper led me to a meeting at a local church where Allyson Washburn was explaining the ballot. I was impressed by the work the League was doing, so I joined.

You’ve given so much to the League, can you tell us a little about what you gained from your years of service with the League?

Perhaps the biggest thing I’ve gained from the League is getting to know a group of women who are interested in what’s going on in the city and are committed to helping to make things better. I’ve learned a tremendous amount from working on various projects, listening to the opinions of city leaders, and studying the kinds of issues the League deals with.

What is the Ballot Simplification Committee?

San Francisco is the only city in the country that has a committee to write the text of all the ballot measures published in a Voters Pamphlet which is distributed to all registered voters in the city. The League was the organization that pushed to form the Ballot Simplification Committee and that is why we always have a seat on it. The Committee is charged with the task of writing up ballot measures in language that is objective, clear, and comprehensible to a voter with an 8th grade education.

What is the most challenging part of being on the Ballot Simplification Committee?

Aside from having to get down to City Hall at 9:00 AM for two weeks of meetings, the most challenging part of being on the committee is taking the language of the ballot measure, asking various witnesses both supporters and opponents of the measure enough questions so that we understand all the issues, and to write a truly balanced version of the measure so voters can decide whether or not to support it.

What does being a League member mean to you?

The League is important to me because it gives me a chance to work on issues that are useful for the community—getting people out to vote and helping them to vote effectively. When I work with the League I feel that I’m using my time in a way that is valuable to me and useful to the community.

At the Gala, we honor women, such as yourself, who have demonstrated incredible leadership abilities and a deep commitment to their community. What attributes do you value in a strong community leader?

The most important attribute of a community leader, I think, is the willingness to look at issues objectively and to study all aspects of them. Too many people are unwilling to set aside their personal beliefs and try to understand how other people understand and are affected by public issues.

You were chosen as the first-ever recipient of the Spirit of the League Award because of all of the things you have done to strengthen the League. Is there an accomplishment that you are particularly proud of, would like to highlight, in regards to your League service?

One of the jobs I’ve been most proud of doing in the League is working with Marge D’Wylde, Jody Sanford, Carolyn Lee and others on getting the League website up and running. Moving a lot of our information online was quite a change for the League and some of our members didn’t think we would be able to do it. Now of course we have evolved into other online services such as Facebook.

What are your concerns about voter apathy and voter barriers?

Voter apathy is one of the greatest problems we face today. I think the League has to keep pushing to convince young people that participating in civic life is worthwhile even though change comes very slowly. It’s an ongoing struggle that has to be fought continuously. I also think we should reach out to people who mistakenly think they can’t vote, like many of the formerly incarcerated and the homeless, and bring them into the community by encouraging them to vote. I also wish we could work more with people with disabilities to make voting and participating in civic life easier for them.

Please share any words of advice for new League members

The only advice I can give new League members is to have patience. It takes a long time to accomplish anything in the public sphere and it is only after working at it for several years that you have the credibility to influence civic leaders and make a real difference in the community.

You can meet Adele Fasick and our Women Who Could Be President honorees on March 19th.

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