Notes On the Arizona Libertarian Convention 2017

AZ LP Convention Notes

29 January 2017

Scott Stewart, Chairman, Pima County Libertarian Party

Below is a brief summary of the results and some of my general observations of this year’s Arizona Libertarian Party Convention and associated events of 21 January 2017.  Those wanting more detail, correct spellings of names, and greater certainty should refer to the official minutes when the state party posts them.  Also, though several people from other counties volunteered for various things, I noted only where Pima people volunteered.   In addition, other attendees may have different observations that they are free to post.

The convention was organized around a Friday night reception / party, Saturday morning official business session, and afternoon speakers.  As Pima County LP chair, I attended only the Saturday morning business session and sporadically attended some of the afternoon speakers.

Having been around since 1993, I was pleased to see the size of the convention, the age distribution, and the philosophical range from pragmatic centrists to hard-line radicals.  I found the vast majority of them to be results-oriented people with whom I could work.

Business session

  • Started a few minutes late, but Chairman Kielsky deftly handled the initial clumsiness and got the convention back on agenda fairly quickly. Without objection, the agenda was approved with the caveat that some things would be taken out of order and presented when they were ready.
  • After initially starting out with 16 credentialed state committeemen, 20 were present for the vast majority of business. The organized counties were present (Maricopa, ultimately with 9 credentialed representatives; Pima ultimately with 4, and Yuma with 2).  Pinal, Mojave, and Navajo are unorganized counties who were also in attendance and after some discussion, their chairs were credentialed as eligible for voting purposes.  In my opinion, recognizing them or not would not have affected any significant outcome of the convention voting, but was in line with past traditions without starkly violating bylaws or state laws.
  • Officer reports and only a couple bullet points are mentioned here.
    • Chairman Kielsky pointed out that our Voter Registration numbers are up.
    • One of the state party’s priorities is and has been a lawsuit over last year’s dramatically increased nominating petition signature requirements, which resulted in no candidate on the ballot for any statewide office except for our Presidential / Vice Presidential candidates, Gary Johnson and William Weld, and only a couple state legislative candidates.
    • The Secretary’s report was provided in writing and discussed only briefly to save time.
    • The Treasurer’s report was not provided in writing but party finances are claimed as healthy.
  • Officer Election Results
    • Chairman: Michael Kielsky (Maricopa)
    • Secretary: Mathew Rubo (Maricopa)
    • Treasurer: Robert Pepitone (Maricopa)
    • 1st Vice Chair: John Buttrick (Maricopa)
    • 2nd Vice Chair: John Winder (Mojave)
    • Asst Secretary: Mike Shipley (Maricopa)
    • Asst Treasurer: Laila Aussie (Pima)
  • County Party Development Updates, Reports of Activities; Motions Related to County Party Building
    • A weekly telecom for collaborating on newly county was suggested.
    • Howard Blitz (Yuma) of his longstanding Freedom Library offered his services in helping any classes get started elsewhere.
  • Litigation over HB 2608 & Campaigns Update
    • The lawsuit and next steps over the new signature requirements were discussed. While the new numbers are daunting, we should operationally plan to have to meet them.
  • LNC Update by Region 1 Rep Caryn Halos
    • The next National convention is July 1-3 in New Orleans
    • Membership is up after last year, but we need to continue pushing national membership.
  • Paid Executive Director
    • After some discussion, generally supportive with caveats, a committee was formed to look into and give feedback on how to task, fund, and maintain a part time executive director. Pepiton (Maricopa) to chair committee, Stewart (Pima) and others volunteered to serve on said committee.
  • A new State Party Platform was presented by the Platform Committee and was approved after suggested modifications were rejected.
  • Standing Committees / ad-hoc Committees, Events Planning, Volunteer Coordination, Candidate Recruitment, and County Party Development (nominations/volunteers/appointments)
    • A County Party Development Committee was declared, volunteers were requested and chair was appointed. John Winder is chair, Stewart of Pima volunteer among others.
    • Saul Rakaskas and Laila Ausie volunteered to serve on Events Committee, one activity of which is the AZ LP convention next year in Tucson. This is where Elisabeth Nolan raised issue of Weeks being invited to this event.
  • Powell Gammill Memorial Award
    • Numerous speakers endorsed the creation and why
    • Pepiton appointed to define process for future recipients.
    • Emily Goldberg announced as first recipient and unanimously supported.
  • Old Business (none raised)
  • New Business
    • Bylaw Committee Created, with recommendation to look at Colorado’s bottom-up approach. Saul Rackauskas (Pima) volunteered to serve.
    • Technology Committee Created
    • Media Outreach Committee Created (Merissa Hamilton to Chair)
  • Announcements
    • Ianuzzo announces brief non-partisan campaign discussion with longest serving elected libertarian in state (yours truly) immediately after business session closes.
  • Adjournment

(FYI – 7 people actually want to hear about non-partisan campaigns and dynamics of being actual public official; about 15-20 min duration with good Q and A.

Afternoon Speakers (Since Saul Rackauskas attended all, his observations are given below; I skipped most to work on other things).

  • Nick Sarwark gave a nice presentation with emphases on unity, future of the party, and the need for activity. He thanked everyone for the good work that we have done.
  • Maggie McNeill main point was to support the rights of Sex Workers. She is one.  She presented a good argument for us to support the rights of Sex Workers even if we do not approve of that activity.  She pointed out that a loss of rights to any minority is really an attack on the rights of all of us.  Her talk was very informative, and she has a good appreciation of our goals.
  • Kevin McCormick gave a long talk, but only one point really resonated with me. He came out in favor of using “Clean Elections” funding.  He emphasized the amount of money that would be available to our candidates if they chose to use that alternative.  The surprise was that there was not any obvious objection to his recommendation.  It appeared that some people did not like the proposal, but they did not vocalize any objection.
  • Derrick Mains gave an impassioned presentation. It showed him to be a charismatic speaker.
  • Caryn Ann Harlos probably had the best presentation of all (on the history of the Statement of Principles and the “Taxation is Theft” declaration. She was very enthusiastic, and she definitely motivated me to be more active participant.  I was very happy that we stayed for her talk.
  • Michael Kelsey did a good job of thanking the attendees and the organizers for a great convention.

One final comment by Stewart:

The Radical Caucus was well represented, not only welcoming, but breaking bread with, and offering principled defense of Weeks, the guy who stripped on stage and on camera at the National convention.

Claiming that Weeks was a valuable member of the liberty movement, the principle upon they defended him upon was that he had initiated no force against anyone.  True enough.  But please recall that he had been given the stage and microphone to offer an argument why he should be in a leadership role.  Is committing fraud to enable this act acceptable?    Evidently to some in our party it is.

This embarrassing act served as a parting shot to undermine and sabotage the work of everyone else there and the work of all those who have come before to work to build a continually stronger, more credible, and more effective party.