Seniors & Aging

Ingeborg Paulus of Bellingham appreciates the approach to issues taken by the League of Women Voters

Name: Ingeborg Paulus.

Age: 85.

Hometown: Bellingham.

Family: Husband Roy Potter, 95.

Captivated in her 70s: Paulus, who formerly taught criminology at Western Washington University, recalls how she was first captivated by programs of the League of Women Voters about a decade ago.

“I read in the paper about an economist who was going to speak to the league about a topic I was interested in,” she says. “I was very impressed by the presentation, so I kept attending the talks. I found them very inspiring. The topics chosen impressed me - such as Cuba, education, health, gun control - as did the serious nature of the people who asked questions.”

Quick joiner: Paulus says she needed only about half a year to become convinced that she wanted to become part of the League of Women Voters of Bellingham/Whatcom County.

“What really impressed me was the voter registration drives conducted by the league,” says Paulus, who served two years as treasurer and is still an active member.

Bipartisan effort: While Paulus calls herself “a committed Democrat,” she is proud that the league invites candidates of all political persuasions to participate in the organization’s candidate forums. She’s also proud that league members attempt to register anyone interested in voting, regardless of political preference.

“We help to present candidates on all sides,” she says. “We want to hear what all the candidates propose.”

Going along with the concept of presenting all sides, the league does not issue endorsements.

Presents forums: Paulus is now involved helping to present the league’s voter forums, which are filled with interested citizens.

“Bellingham is a very civic-oriented community,” she says. “The fact that we are a university community makes a difference, too. And we have all ages represented and people from across the political spectrum. Our forums are televised locally, so everyone can have a chance to see them.”

Men are members, too: While the league retains its original name, many men have long since become active members.

“The league does not want any other organization to claim the (original) name,” Paulus explains.

Seeking consensus: Paulus says that when the league conducts a study and ensuing discussions about a local issue, such as development at Cherry Point, and reaches a consensus opinion, members can then speak about that consensus.

The league’s position on Cherry Point is that no more than one additional pier should be allowed there, and that commodities with high risk to harm the environment or health should not be allowed.

Paulus notes that programs dealing with environmental issues are among the most important to local residents.

Encourages voting: Paulus says the national organization is extremely interested in getting everyone who is a U.S. citizen out to vote.

“I personally think that’s a very good thing,” she says, adding that the highest possible voting turnout makes America a “more democratic country.”

Registration sometimes slow: Paulus says people who volunteer to register voters, such as at tables outside of stores, sometimes encounter more apathy than they would like to see.

“People should be more interested in voting and not be so cavalier about it,” says Paulus, who isn’t happy when she sees a low turnout for any election.

Popular brochure: Paulus says one of the services the league provides is its TRY brochure, which stands for They Represent You. The brochure lists local, state and federal officeholders and how to contact them. The brochures are available at several locations in Whatcom County.

Dual citizenship: Paulus was born in Germany in 1929 in a house she recalls was only 10 feet from the French border. She lived there during World War II, moved to Canada in 1952, then came to Bellingham to stay 43 years ago. She holds dual Canadian-American citizenship.

“I was politically interested but not involved,” she says of her young-adult years in Canada. “I’ve always been interested.”

The league’s position on Cherry Point was corrected Nov. 17, 2014.