Despite being a Republican (or perhaps because I am a Republican) I like the Libertarian Party. Libertarians keep Republicans honest on matters of limited government, low taxes and government regulations. But while Libertarians can be valuable, they can also be counterproductive to the cause of a (small L) libertarian form of government. One such case is the race for Monroe County Commissioner.
In this countywide race, we have a Libertarian and a Republican trying to unseat an incumbent Democrat. The last time an incumbent Democrat was removed from that office was 2002, when Brian O’Neill was sent home by voters. Removing Pat Stoffers will be an uphill battle, and splitting the conservative/libertarian vote will only make that more difficult. This is why (small L) libertarians should be voting for the Republican, Bob LaGarde.
Libertarians argue that they take votes equally from both Republicans and Democrats. That might be true, in national and state elections. In local elections – specifically the race for Monroe County Commissioner – I very much doubt that will be the case. This is because arguably the most important issue facing the commissioners is land use policy, with the vision laid out in the comprehensive plan and implemented by various zoning laws. These laws and regulations have a huge impact on private property rights.
When asked about the comprehensive plan that has caused concern among landowners and business owners, LaGarde offered the following quote from President Taft:
“Next to the right of liberty, the right of property is the most important individual right guaranteed by the Constitution and the one which, united with that of personal liberty, has contributed more to the growth of civilization than any other institution established by the human race.”
That is certainly a strong defense of private property rights. Dave Nakarado, as a Libertarian, also is a strong defender of private property rights. So with two candidates who strongly defend private property rights, the question for (small L) libertarians and conservatives is how our vote will be most effective in preserving our private property rights against a county government that always seems to be looking for ways to restrict those rights.
The best way to look at this is to look at the 2012 election. Nakarado got 11% of the vote two years ago, with the incumbent Democrat getting 51% and the Republican candidate getting the rest. Most voters are going to choose one of the two major parties, and it is a rare occasion when a third party or independent candidate has a legitimate shot at winning, especially in a three way race. Realistically, the best Nakarado can hope for is splitting the conservative vote and causing Stoffers to win with a plurality.
Nakarado is a good candidate and would be a great county commissioner. Monroe County could use someone like him in elective office, especially in a legislative capacity. But if we are going to have a realistic chance of replacing Pat Stoffers with someone who respects private property rights and believes in limiting county government’s reach into our lives and wallets, we need to support and vote for the Republican candidate, Bob LaGarde.