Yavapai County residents will have more political choices next year when they see candidates from America’s third largest political party on county ballots beginning in September. The Libertarian Party gained ballot status after a petition drive garnered 986 signatures from registered county voters.
"While the Arizona State Libertarian Party already holds ballot access for statewide offices, this is the first time Libertarians will have recognition to run for Yavapai County offices," Yavapai County Libertarian Party Chairman John De-Thomas said.
State law requires political parties to qualify separately in each county. The 986 signatures represent two-thirds of 1 percent of registered voters in Yavapai County, the minimum requirement under state law. Libertarians are also on the ballots in Pima, Maricopa and Coconino counties.
The county ballot access now allows the party to place candidates in the running for elected county offices such as sheriff and the county board of supervisors.
DeThomas said the next step for the Libertarian Party, in addition to finding viable candidates, is to attract new members in Yavapai County.
"The main thrust now is to build up the party at the grassroots level," he said. Many of those new members will be voters who are not entirely pleased with the performance and the principles of the Republican and Democratic parties, he said.
DeThomas, a retired Navy captain, expects to see the party’s principles of personal responsibility and "the power of the individual" attract many military veterans, as well.
"If you were a ‘Goldwater Republican’ in the 1960s, you’re probably a modern Libertarian," DeThomas said. The Libertarian Party’s platform is one of support for the Constitution and the concept that the Constitution limits federal powers.
DeThomas said he believes the party will gain popularity as it dispels "misinformation" regarding its principles. Some of that misinformation surrounds its stance on the failed "drug war," he said.
"The Libertarian Party does not, in any way, condone drug use," he said. "But the war on drugs is creating more drug crime, it’s destabilizing other governments in this hemisphere and it’s filling the jails with people who are not a threat to others," he said. "Drug use is a moral and medical problem, and the ‘drug war’ is only making it worse."
Libertarians have a similar view on abortion not being appropriate for government intervention, and oppose the war in Iraq because "there has never been any proof of any direct threat," DeThomas said.
The Libertarian Party also strives for a clear separation of church and state, as well as responsible taxation.
For more information visit the Libertarian Web site at www.azlp.org or www.lp.org.