Although League of Women Voters nationally started as an outgrowth of the women’s suffrage movement, Johnson County did not have a “local” League until 1952, when Johnson County was in transition from a rural to an urban community.
In a county made up of 13 second- and third-class cities and two townships, the Shawnee Mission High School District was the only unifying governmental unit in northeast Johnson County. For 20 years, the name of the local League was League of Women Voters of Shawnee Mission. In 1972, the name changed to League of Women Voters of Johnson County to better represent all League members in the county. Johnson County consists of 22 separate, first-, second- and third-class, incorporated cities.
The first League studies were proposed in 1952: A study of the school system; the Urban Township Plan; publication of the survey “Know Your Town Government”; and a study of how the personal property taxes are assessed, combined into a single topic “A Study of Urban Township Government.” The first League Day at the Legislature was held in February 1953.
The first candidates meeting was held in 1956.
League successfully sponsored the Shawnee Mission park system, and it was established by state law in June 1956 (Johnson County Park and Recreation District today). In 1957, League published the first “Guide To Johnson County Government.”
League of Women Voters has been instrumental in establishing the Mental Health Association; the Community Mental Health Center (Rainbow); Human Relations Commission; Johnson County Community College, the reorganization of county government, juvenile services, community corrections, water management and many other services. The broad categories in our Position Handbook under which most of our positions and studies fit are government, natural resources and social policy.
LWVJoCo has grown as Johnson County has grown, from a population of 60,000 in the early 1950s to 600,000 in 2020. The League of Women Voters of the United States
celebrated its 100th anniversary in 2020.