8:24 am – The 2017 Iowa Libertarian Party convention is beginning. This post will be updated throughout the day with information, interviews, and other items of interest.
Some of the people you will meet today and in the future include:
Sarah Mitchell, a Scott County resident who came to the Libertarian Party last October after conversations with a friend and a visit to a county party meeting. Sarah is working the Registration table this morning. She says she joined the Libertarians because she “wanted change.” Asked how registration was going this morning, she said, “so far, so good.”
Keith Laube, the current chair of the LPIA. Keith said, “We’re going to have a great time celebrating our major party status. We’re going to elect some new great state leaders to take us through the 2018 election and retaining our status as a political party.”
Chuck Aldrich, the Libertarians 2016 candidate for U.S. Senate. He is considering a run for governor in 2018 because we “need 2% to keep major party status, and I already received more votes than that in a statewide race.” Chuck also said he expects the number of registered Libertarians to double in a year now that we are an official political party.
Joseph Hoyne, chair of the Dubuque County affiliate of the Libertarian Party.
8:46 am – The LPIA wants to make sure the public and media know it is here and intends to stay. Lucas J. Link, who will run for House District 57 in 2018 and Jake Porter, the LPIA’s executive director, show off some of the materials the LPIA has to help voters remember they have a third option at the polls. Lucas said he decided to seek office because he wants to “bridge the gap between the people and government.” Jake also is holding the agenda for today’s convention.
10:00 a.m. – A working session reviewing changes to the Party’s by-laws and constitution was held, with many changes being made to bring the Party’s structure and operations into compliance with its new status as a political party. Joseph Howe, of Polk County, chaired the By-Laws and Constitution Committee preparing the changes, and made the presentation of changes at the convention.
LPIA Chair Keith Laube welcomed people to the convention. He said, “We are a political party” to a response of applauds. He added, “We wanted to be a political party for a number of years and we’re going to keep it.” He noted that the candidates who ran over the past four decades have helped to build the party and bring us to the point where we are today.
Dave Demarest, from Nebraska and the regional representative to the National Libertarian Party, presented an award to Keith Laube in congratulations of the Party achieving political party status under his leadership. Dave also mentioned a joint Nebraska-Iowa Libertarian gathering later in the year that could be the largest Libertarian gathering ever.
During the break, Libertarian activists from Iowa’s 4th Congressional District chatted with James Schneider. Nathan Gentry is a member of Rockwell City’s City Council. His mother, Lynne Gentry, ran for the State House in prior years. James is the contact person at LPIA for people considering running for office as Libertarians.
10:30 a.m. – Larry Sharpe is talking on the theme “Being Libertarian: What Does it Mean?.” He addressed a topic of discussion in Libertarian circles about who is a Libertarian. Larry said leadership is recognizing diversity of thought with unity of purpose. We do not need to agree with each other on every issue, but we need to be united in getting Libertarians elected.
10:50 a.m. – Libertarians who serve on their non-partisan city councils talked about the role of elected officials. Nick Taibor who is on the Cedar Falls City Council said as an elected official “you don’t always win, but you promote your message.” He gave examples of the money spent to build trails versus the less expensive route of painting designated bike lanes on existing roadways. Rick Stewart, who ran for Linn County Sheriff last year, shouted from the audience, “Fortune tellers do not need licenses to tell fortunes.” Nathan Gentry of Rockwell City, in his first term on the City Council, said, “In my part of Iowa, it is the small communities that matter.” He added that when the people in these communities feel ignored by the powers that exist in larger communities, they stop paying attention. Nathan warned that “When people stop paying attention, that’s when stuff they don’t like gets passed.” He commented on his nascent political experience by concluding, “I kind of shoot from the hip, but it seems to work.” Loud applause indicated people at the convention agreed with him.
11:20 am – Tim Johnson, a professor at Drake, and now a declared Libertarian, spoke on marketing and campaigns. He said, “A brand is a promise to keep an obligation.” He then asked, “What are we as Libertarians doing to get ourselves noticed?” He compared attention spans, noting goldfish have a longer one than humans these days. He said you can draw a crowd by shouting, but you have to give them something to keep them. He said he would also add value as being needed to keep the crowd. Tim said that is what we are talking about today at the convention, what value do Libertarians offer. Keeping Republicans out of your bedroom and Democrats out of your wallet is the message he finds appeals to himself for being a Libertarian. He concluded by asking if a party is on a Trajectory or a Trudgetory, with the Libertarians definitely being on a trajectory with momentum gained from the 2016 election.
11:30 a.m. – The Johnson County Party affiliate was given recognition at the convention. They are going to recruit local candidates and take on local issues. John George, co-chair, said “We’d like to get something going with the college to get the youth involved. Joshua Miller is the secretary of the county affiliate. Both John and Joshua ran for the State legislature in 2016.
Thank you and recognition was given to people who gathered numerous signatures for 2016 candidates, ran for office, and/or have been identified as lifetime members of the Libertarian Party. Larry Sharpe stepped up to the podium to say the Libertarian Party is nothing without “you,” its members. He said the party does not need lifetime members, the members themselves need it. If we want the party to keep growing, to become more than it is today, we, as members, need to donate and become lifetime members.
Jocelyn Fry ran for State Office in District 35 in 2016. She said of her experience, that she “burnt through a lot of my comfort barriers in talking with people in order to bring liberty out of my house and into my community.” She intends to run again.
1:25 – Larry Sharpe gave the keynote presentation. He spoke of how to communicate with people. He said, “Listen first.”
Amanda Swanson of Decatur City plans to run for her city council this year. Her motivation is to allow chickens in the city. She finds it unreasonable that Des Moines and Cedar Rapids allow chickens but her smaller, more rural community does not.
The business portion of the convention has now started. Harrison County reports it is joining with other county groups in western Iowa to have a combined meeting on the third Thursday of each month. Polk County reports it now has a website and meeting monthly. Linn County continues to hold monthly meetings and had the ACLU representing it on a matter that arose during the 2016 campaigns. Scott County reported on its activities and made a connection with another person at the convention who wants to help grow the affiliate. As with Scott County, Dubuque County reports it plans to support candidates running for local offices.
2:05 p.m. – The Constitution and By-Laws have been adopted. James Schneider was nominated for the chair of the LPIA. James was the co-Midwest Director and Iowa Director of the Johnson-Weld presidential campaign in 2016. He has served as the LPIA campaign chair and District 1 representative. In his professional life he has been a project manager. He has come to adopt a philosophy of “servant leadership.” He will ask candidates and party activists, “What can I do to help you be successful?” James was elected unanimously.
Nominations for co-chair, serving more as a vice-chair, have been made. Ed Wright and Dan Zwick were nominated. People spoke in support of Ed Wright, his experience on the LPIA Executive Committee and as the 2014 candidate for U.S. Congress. John George spoke in favor of Dan Zwick, who was chair of John’s campaign, a veteran, and a business owner who wants to apply Libertarian principles to his business. James Schneider spoke saying there will be space in the party for both nominees and the party will be strong going forward with both of them involved.
Ed is talking about living in the metro area for several years and now on a farm in Guthrie County. He is an engineer who has owned stock in a brokerage firm. His first role in the party was as Campaigns & Election Chair and he served as Chairman for 6 years. He does not intend to serve in an executive position forever and is looking forward to having more young people in the party. He still wants to serve and would like the opportunity to serve as co-chair for the next two years.
Dan Zwick is chair of the Johnson County affiliate. As co-chair he would focus on a few things, including developing the county affiliates. He believes the foundation for success comes with strong county affiliates. “As Libertarians, we have to find creative solutions to maximize” our resources. He said, “I appreciate your guys’ consideration.”
The vote was close with Ed Wright winning on a vote of 20-18.
Joseph Howe was nominated for secretary. Bryan Jack Holder spoke on behalf of Joseph, saying he has known Joseph for a couple years. Joseph said he wants to work on youth outreach. As secretary he wants some transparency, including having minutes posted. His election was unanimous.
Sarah Mitchell was nominated for treasurer. She said she looks forward to the job and using the skills she already uses in her daily job. Her election was unanimous.
District representative elections were held by separating the room into Congressional Districts. District 1 rep is Myra Matejka. She has been the District 1 rep for the past two years and says county parties have been popping up in that time. District 2 rep is Joey Speak. He says he wants to give county parties the resources to build. District 3 rep is Marco Battaglia who is excited to be working with the state party and getting more people involved. District 4 is Shawn Dietz, who is looking forward to growing the party and has some experience as an elected official through another party.
At large representatives: Jules Ofenbakh (Dist. 3), Gordon Stewart (Dist. 2), John George (Dist. 1), Dan Zwick (Dist 2.), and Jocelyn Fry (Dist. 3) were nominated for at-large representative positions.
Speaking on behalf of Jules, Ed Wright says she has served as an at-large representative for two years and understands the role. Gordon Stewart has been chair of a county party and his supporter believes should not lose. Dan Zwick spoke on behalf of John George, who has lots of life experience and would serve the party well. Joshua Miller also spoke on behalf of John, a person he became familiar with as a fellow candidate, and a person who understands the principles of liberty. A person spoke on behalf of Dan Zwick who, as James indicated earlier in nominations, he would be an asset to the party. Marco Battaglia spoke on behalf of Jocelyn Fry, stating that she is in a Des Moines district with much in common with people in rural Iowa, and would be good in outreaching other people.
The nominees speaking for themselves: Jules said she has enjoyed serving as an at-large representative and being a lawyer and small business owner helps. She believes in stepping up and helping out where needed. Gordon says he has been a libertarian since he was in a philosophy club in high school. He supports the idea of 80-20, a theme common this year and espoused by Larry Sharpe, referring to being supportive of a person with whom you agree on 80% of the issues. John said he did well as a candidate in a district with no established Libertarian slate and with a liberal-oriented college, plus he was a delegate to the national convention in 2016. He added things are not black and white in politics. Dan Zwick referred back to his speech when nominated for co-chair; he, too, spoke of the 80-20 idea and we should be reaching out to those people. Jocelyn is a home-school mom with a blended family of eight children, some in public schools, and is used to jumping from the needs of one person to those of another.
A question was asked of the candidates what they considered the budget of the LPIA should be in two years. The answers were not totally specific, but each candidate did pause to consider what the growth of the party will be and what type of money could be raised. As each nominee spoke, they built off of each other. Executive Director Jake Porter then took the floor and pushed for lifetime members and $1,000 contributions.
The at-large representatives elected were Dan Zwick and Jules Ofenbakh.
The alternate representatives for District Representatives are now being selected. District 1: John George; District 2: Gordon Stewart; District 3: Jocelyn Fry; District 4: Eric Cooper.
The convention will conclude with a workshop by Larry Sharpe.