LWVTC Response to Remarks by Tulare County Supervisor Pete Vander Poel

The League of Women Voters Tulare County (LWVTC) is committed to democracy and fair, informed elections.  Because of this, we consider Tulare County Supervisor Pete Vander Poel’s statement quoted in the January 31 print edition of The Sun-Gazette newspaper to be libelous.

In that issue it states, ‘“The League of Women Voters has claimed to strive to put on an unbiased and informative event and there has been no effort whatsoever to make that happen,’ said Vander Poel his reasoning being that three or four of the six planning organizations working with the league are allegedly backing his opponent.”

Mr. Vander Poel impugned the integrity and non-partisanship of us and our partners, making an accusation that he knew at the time to be untrue: that some (unspecified by him) co-sponsoring organizations were endorsing his opponent.

Following the appearance of this article, the reporter was fired, and the Publisher of The Sun-Gazette, Reggie Ellis, apologized.

We had invited Mr. Vander Poel to a public candidates forum and, on December 18, 2023, informed him by letter who our partners for this event were—none of which endorse candidates.  Yet, in speaking to a reporter in late January 2024, he made this baseless claim.

Mr. Vander Poel also complained of the venue planned for the forum.  On January 17, 2024, we invited him to a new forum, on a new date, at a different venue.  He still chose not to participate.  Whatever his reasons for not wanting to participate in such a public forum, groundless remarks regarding our integrity should not be used as an excuse.

As part of our effort to encourage and enable broad participation in our democracy, the League works with a wide umbrella of nonpartisan organizations.  We have strict nonpartisan policies, and organizations wanting to cosponsor with us are always made aware that we cannot, and do not, partner with any groups who endorse candidates.  In the rare instances when a co-sponsoring organization does endorse a candidate (for any race), they must cease to be a co-sponsor.  This is our long-held standard.

The protocols governing these events are strictly determined by the League of Women Voters, and have been developed over a century of experience nationwide.  They include: inviting all candidates in a race, regardless of party; free and convenient access to the public; no campaign materials in the forum space; no cheering or jeering; encouraging written questions from the audience, sorted to eliminate redundancy, irrelevancy, hostile language, etc.; equitable time for each candidate to respond; and other such rules designed to ensure a comfortable, respectful, meaningful experience for the public and candidates alike.

We take our nonpartisan mandate extremely seriously.


The League of Women Voters is a non-partisan, non-profit educational organization, which encourages informed and active participation in government, and works to increase understanding of major public policy issues.

7 thoughts on “LWVTC Response to Remarks by Tulare County Supervisor Pete Vander Poel

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  1. As a leader, ..slow down and investigate his beliefs and assumptions. it’s easy to “call out” people But it can be equally challenging to recognize and acknowledge our own unconscious biases.

  2. Pete Vander Poel’s acceptance to participate in the Legacy Church Forum, despite criticizing the League of Women Voters for bias, presents a critical inconsistency. It suggests a selective approach to engagement platforms based on perceived sympathies or advantages, rather than a principled stance on nonpartisanship and open dialogue. This behavior might imply a bias towards venues that align with his views or political strategy, raising questions about his commitment to impartial and inclusive political discourse.

  3. I’ve attended LWV events. They have always been straight-forward and fair. The LWV provides a valuable service to voters. Perhaps Pete is just afraid to face his constituents in a forum he can’t control?

  4. The organization has every right to address Vander Poel comments.

    Apparently, he does not value “women who vote!” Nor, considered them as a valid organization because they “are women!”
    However, the reporter should not have been dismissed due to politics.

    Employment provides for a future and support of family. Vander Poel , in previous statements, not only about lack of respect for women but other culture or ethnic groups that he mocks especially their ethnic culture. He is only an immigrant, probably third generation only and does not believe he is to be a representative of all citizens that live in his district.

    However, the reporter should not have lost their employment. Employment provides for support for family and we certainly do not need more people unemployed especially those performing the duties of their employment! And, more important, no one should lose their employment due to politics!

    Organization should support his reemployment to his:her present position.

    Vander Popl

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