Rosenbloom honored as League of Women Voters celebrates 80 years

NEW ULM – The New Ulm League of Women Voters celebrated its 80th anniversary Thursday with a reception at the Lind House marked by speeches, a skit illustrating League history, and ceremonies recognizing long-term members and the group.

The event was attended by Minnesota League of Women Voters President Terry Kalil, several elected officials including both an active and a retired judge and city officials, and many members and friends.

In her welcome address, New Ulm League President Ruth Ann Webster recapped that the group exists to encourage educated, well-informed voters.

“As Leaguers, we strive to have well-informed opinions on issues facing out community, our state, and our nation,” said Webster. “Thank you for joining in that mission.”

A group of League members acted out “a historical vignette” illustrating 80 years of history. They used a humorous script to highlight both the chapter’s triumphs and its trials and tribulations.

Webster then led a ceremony in recognition of the longest active member, Janet Rosenbloom.

Describing Rosenbloom as “our mentor, our docent, our leader, our friend,” Webster focused on several efforts Rosenbloom led over the years.

One major local issue in the 1970s was the “sad” state of the “historic” Brown County jail, said Webster. “Janet organized a local League trip to Stillwater prison to learn all about incarceration facilities,” she added.

“In an unrelated effort, Janet spearheaded the League’s project of taking high school students to the legislative session to see how things got done in the capitol,” said Webster.

“Janet’s passion for politics, for real issues, for serious discussion of important topics remains undimmed,” said Webster. “I have it on the best authority that when the presidential debate conflicted with an episode of Downtown Abbey, Janet watched the debate,” she added.

Kalil concluded the official program with a moving, personal, emotion-tinged speech.

The granddaughter of Syrian immigrants, Kalil connected her personal heritage to pressing current issues that show both “how far we have come, and how far we have to go.”

She addressed what the League sees as erosion of voting rights, through decisions such as Citizens United, redistricting, and other developments. She outlined some of the steps that League members can do to “grow, protect, and empower the vote.”

Kalil then delivered a proclamation by the state League acknowledging the New Ulm chapter’s history and contributions to informed civil discourse.