Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Those who Travel on Foot

[photo] LCCFL organizer Michael Harrison speaks at Challenger's Town Hall

Third party candidates often do not benefit from the type of boost that Elephantine or Donkey party machinery can provide, so they often have difficulty making their voices heard.

However, this was not the case on April 10 at the Challengers Town Hall, an event hosted by Luzerne County Campaign for Liberty at Luzerne County Community College. The event provided an opportunity for third party candidates to speak before potential constituents and PCN cameras.

Although two of the candidates who spoke, Republicans Peg Luksik (for Senate) and Sam Rohrer (for Governor), have been made de facto third party candidates by the PA state GOP, I have decided to present summaries of what local candidates said at the event as a public service to the voter. These candidates are Independent Jake Towne and Libertarian candidates Tim Mullen (PA House District 120), Betsy Summers (PA Senate District 14), and Brian Bergman (PA House District 119).

Jake Towne is running for the 15th congressional district, where many King’s College students will vote. In his speech he stated that the unsound dollar is the US’s most pressing issue, but he emphasized the need to balance the budget in Washington, and he called for the repeal of the recent healthcare overhaul and cap and trade legislation. Perhaps his most unique belief was that the US troops should be brought home because “terrorists will best be pursued by small groups seeking bounties under constitutional letters of marque and reprisal, not by conventional armies.”
To foster transparency, Towne plans to write open office letters in which he will explain the reasoning behind his votes. When I asked him why someone should vote for an Independent candidate, he said that one should consider the candidate’s principles, not just party allegiance. He added that electing an Independent such as himself is advantageous because such an individual is not beholden to party machinery but to the people.

Members of the Libertarian Party also could be said to have no party machinery to follow.

Tim Mullen is currently running on the Libertarian ticket for the PA house district 120—adequately summed up in local parlance as “the West Side.” Some stances he took in his speech were the repeal of school property taxes, strike-free public education, opposition to toll roads which will discourage commerce, and the need to address the pension time bomb set to go off in 2012 for Pennsylvania state employees.

Tim Mullen (center), Sam Rohrer (left), Betsy Summers (right)

In my talk with Mullen afterward, he revealed that he plans to go door to door to all of the houses in the 120th district to inform voters of his candidacy and platform, having already gone to a significant number of doorsteps. As to why someone should vote Libertarian, he said “we’re a party bound by the constitution and by the principles of the founding fathers. The platforms of the Republicans and Democrats seem to twist based on where the money is coming from.” He then showed me a pamphlet that compared several major policies of the Bush administration with similar policies of the Obama administration.

PA state Senate candidate Betsy Summers continued along the same vein, calling for the elimination of pensions for all elected officials state-wide. “It is a civic duty when you serve. Do you think the founding fathers said ‘I’m going to run for office so that the tax payers can support me for the rest of my life, once I leave government’”? She also criticized the “war on poverty,” stating that 20 cents of every dollar taxed for purposes of helping the poor actually reaches the poor, with the rest going to state employees. “I would rather much rather just take a dollar and give it to a poor person” said she.

Brian Bergman
A main issue for District 119 candidate Brian Bergman was the lack of protections home owners have against eminent domain. He cited the case of Kelo v. City of New London, and other unjust applications of eminent domain. He also stressed the need for adherence to a document that few people know exists—the Pennsylvania State Constitution.

Candidacies are well and good, but what would it take for the Libertarian party to gain ground politically? Luke Scheitrumph, 19, who is involved with the Mullen campaign, replied “one of them has to win, and momentum will take the party from there.”

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