Local League History                                            Download Draft Version

A league history of the LWV Los Altos – Mountain View from the 1950s to the present

by Susan Younkin


  • In 1959 sixty-eight women of Los Altos and Los Altos Hills, from the Palo Alto League, gathered to form a provisional League, beginning with a “Know Your Town Study” in order to qualify for national League membership


  • Application for recognition as a local League, December 28, 1960
  • Qualified for full League status in 1961, and for incorporation in CA in 1961 as League of Women Voters of Los Altos-Los Altos Hills; earliest Board minutes April 12, 1961 in office file
  • Membership had grown to144 by January 1960 with Voter Service activities serving LA, LAH and MV
  • Mountain View members studied their local government, General Plan and Capital Improvements Program and attained League status in 1968. The name was changed to the League of Women Voters of the Los Altos-Mountain View Area
  • Facts for Voters pamphlet prepared annually (earliest in office 1969)
  • Observer Corps report 1960-61 lists 15 participants at 11 observer posts
  • Tradition of candidates forums begins; they were often front page stories for The Town Crier –as early as April 1961 notice of Candidates for School Board. Also ballot measure pros & cons presentations & distribution( 2,900 in 1964) and voter registration drives had started
  • Tradition of studying city General Plans begins
  • Studied Human Relations on the national and county levels, also state reapportionment and idea of Bay Area Metropolitan Government. Recommended that LWVUS drop the position on the Loyalty Oath as part of National Security
  • Wrote to our Congressman on the importance of Home Rule for Washington, D.C.
  • Worked on school unification proposal for Mountain View and Los Altos and translated the pros and cons into Spanish.
  • In 1961, the League supported Los Altos measures for widening San Antonio Road and for providing sewers and storm drains-both passed but the measure to purchase land for parks failed
  • League joined the Urban Coalition, the Midpeninsula Citizens for Fair Housing and several Mexican-American groups in helping the City of Mountain View relocate residents displaced by the widening of Bailey Avenue (1969)
  • In Directory, members listed as “last name, Mrs. Robert (Jane)” until 72-73
  • “Shake Hands with Government” events started; now called “Meet Your Elected Officials”
  • League recognized as a training ground for public office


  • Distributed 14,500 Election Extras (about CA ballot measures) for November 1972 election; took absentee ballot applications to El Camino Hospital & convalescent homes patients that needed them, returned election day & drove voted ballots to Registrar of Voters Office.
  • Participated in LWVUS studies of Environmental Quality, Solid Waste Management  and U.S. Congress (1971-72)-local consensus was “that Congress should modernize by using electronic voting, computers where useful…”; also units on Human Resources focusing on housing
  • Presented League position in favor of a movement toward housing opportunity for all income levels and for a community of more balanced housing to a 1971 special public LAH Town Council meeting prompted by SCCO Board of Supervisors urging all county cities to adopt proposed joint housing element.
  • Studied  CA administration of justice, state education system 1970-71
  • Local study of Capital Improvements in Mountain View (1971) agreed with priorities for  sewer & water and land acquisition for parks
  • Voter registration efforts included Foothill College campus (1971 report) (Jean Meddaugh & Coeta Chambers-president 1972 mentioned);ballot measure pros & cons presented to 26 different groups; conducted legislative interviews
  • Membership 325 in 1971 report; babysitting available for meetings for a small fee (Sue: FYI, Naomi Alpert was appointed Membership Director April 1972 !, also new members 1972: Merrian Nevin, Ann Coombs)
  • LWVUS voted in 1974 to allow men to join as full voting members
  • Worked for Equal Rights Amendment which ultimately failed, but not forgotten
  • Using local logo with tree referencing orchard heritage & grass roots strength of the League (1972- 2002)
  • General meeting on Health Care System, especially newly created Health System Agencies (HSA) in January 1979
  • Local study (1979) of City General Plans update (LA,LAH,MV), mentions jobs/housing in section on Housing, Land Use and Transportation
  • Observers attend El Camino Hospital District Board meetings–some held 7:30am (earliest report 72-73)
  • Great Decisions international relations discussion meetings


  • March 6, 1985, local League celebrates 25th anniversary
  • Members fielded over 500 calls from voters who needed help finding their polling place or with their sample ballots for the November 1984 election
  • Distributed 4,000 copies of the Election Extra presenting local candidates’ positions and balanced information on local and state ballot measures (1984,1988)
  • Conducted 12 public forums for local and state elections (1988)
  • Provided voter registration at 29 sites (1988)
  • Participated in LWVC studies on k-12 Education (1984-5), Child Care and Election Day Registration (1988)
  • Participated in LWVUS studies of Agriculture policy, Arms Control, Military Policy and Defense Spending, National Security
  • Local position on job/housing imbalance (see above Local Study (1979)when adopted?listed in 81-82 Directory–still looking)
  • Participated in LWV Bay Area study on the issue of toxic waste
  • Cooperated with County Leagues on Hazardous Materials and Water issues
  • Fund raising tours (1983 &1988) of historic homes; authors signed books, including Wallace Stegner, Yvonne Olson Jacobson, Betsy Collard, Ros Creasy
  • “In League with Issues” received 1988 award for Best Issue Coverage on MV public access TV; some candidates forums video recorded & shown on MV channel 30(1988-89); some pros & cons events shown on Los Altos cable channel (1987)


  • League urged citizens to take an active interest in General Plan housing element under consideration in MV–headline story in MV Voice “Teachers, nurses, police need affordable housing. If the October 17(1989) earthquake had occurred at 8pm instead of 5pm, would there be enough city employees living close enough to respond to the emergency?” 
  • Actively participated in County League’s update of position on the county Juvenile Justice System (1992); LWVC study of Juvenile Justice Dependency (1998)
  • Hosted celebration honoring 75th Anniversary of founding of the League of Women Voters at Mountain View City Hall rotunda. Charter member Barbara Emerich cut the cake!  [color photo]
  • “Meet the League” event, September 26, 1999 at Mountain View City Hall included 12 local League presidents (color & grey scale PHOTO: Muriel Knudsen, Judy Hannemann, Carol Watts, Lucy Tyler, Susan Younkin, Laura Tarquinio, Phyllis Hecker, Shirley Magarian, Crownie Billik, Ann Baker, Bea Brown, Barbara Walker)
  • Local member was key part of the design team for “Smart Voter”, first produced for the November 1996 election, covering Santa Clara and San Mateo Counties; promoted LWVC’s “Smart Voter” for one-stop voter information; our 1st League website (1996); Smart Voter team (including our president) traveled to Stockholm (1999) because Smart Voter was named a finalist in the Global Bangemann Challenge that honors projects “judged to best demonstrate how technology can be applied in the best interest of people and society around the world.”
  • Action letters to LAH Town Council questioning proposed Quarry Hills subdivision (1990), Hale, Adobe, & Permanente Creeks(1989), letter to CA Fish & Game regarding Hale Creek diversion at Neary Quarry (1989)
  • Opposed Los Altos Measure G to repeal ordinance requiring developers of new multi-unit residential projects to include affordable housing units or pay a fee that goes into an affordable housing fund; Measure G passed (1993) [Sue, I signed the ballot argument against it–my proudest moment as co-president!]
  • Continued local study of El Camino Hospital adopted1993; 1992 wrote to newly formed Camino Healthcare Board (IDS-an integrated delivery system 1992-96) urging them “to open your regular board meetings to the public…”
  • County Leagues chair addressed Co. Supervisors supporting state bills addressing issues posed by proliferation of handguns and semi-automatic weapons (1999)


  • Web presence expanded; convenient links to Smart Voter; established e-mail discussion group and e-mail action alert list
  • Los Altos History Museum opened, March 18, 2001 with LWV exhibit in “Los Altos Family Tree” on 2nd floor
  • Participated in LWVUS Election of the President update (details? 2003-4?)
  • Participated in LWVC study of the state’s role in the funding & governance of the Community College System (2001-3), update Energy policy, LWVC Election Systems study (2000-02) local member on study committee
  • Active in SCCO Leagues study of Instant Runoff Voting process for County  Supervisors
  • Sponsored public forums “The Battle for America’s Health Care”, Electricity in California, Global Trade, Voting Machines for Santa Clara County?, Introduction to Election Systems, Perspectives on the Transportation Challenge, “Open Government: It’s the Law”
  • Local Housing Element Review & Affordable Housing Update forum April 2001
  • Supported measure to merge Mountain View and Whisman  School Districts
  • Registered voters at community events; provided forms in key community locations
  • Candidates Forums for 13 races, distributed 1400 LWVC Pros & Cons and 200 in Spanish language; Voters Guide with nonpartisan information from local candidates for November 2000 election
  • Studied Immigration Policy (LWVUS study 2007), co-sponsored 6 public forums on federal law, California perspective, opportunities & challenges
  • Votes for Women: Unfinished Business exhibit at Los Altos History Museum (2004); local LWV members contributed League history exhibits
  • Letters opposing deployment of a National Missile Defense System were sent to President Clinton, Senators Boxer & Feinstein and Rep. Eshoo in response to LWVUS call to action
  • LWVUS logo standardization (2002)
  • Participated in LWVUS National Popular Vote Study (2008-2010)
  • lead co-sponsor of Moffett Tomorrow Forum, April 2002; vision/overview of the NASA Ames Development Plan, Housing/Transportation, Habitat & Wetlands; supported efforts to clean up wetlands at Moffett Federal Airfield
  • County League HazMatters group meets monthly
  • Supported state legislation to fund single-payer health care


  • Current members (2014) listed in 1966-67 Directory: Barbara Emerich, Judy Hannemann, Carol Kleyensteuber, Ruth Koehler, Erika Richards, Irene Rodden, Emily Thurber
  • 2011 began distributing local Voter online
  • Started monthly Lunch with the League with speakers including local elected officials and city government planning staff (2011)
  • Participated in LWVUS study on Federal Role in Public Education (2011); Privatization of Government Services-member (Cathy Lazarus? )on LWVUS study committee (2012); member on LWVUS Arms Control Task Force
  • Began posts to Facebook and Twitter in 2013
  • March 2013 Meet Your Local Officials event drew over 100
  • At LWVC 2013 Convention, new local members proposed a motion to study CA higher education system (UC, CSU, Community Colleges) & it passed!
  • Participated in LWVC Initiative & Referendum study (2013)
  • Co-sponsored County League Bay Delta Conservation Plan forum
  • Continued tradition of helping new citizens register to vote

—Susan Younkin