GREENFIELD — Huddled in a small room in the Hancock County Public Library on Wednesday night, Libertarian candidates for governor and state representative and about a dozen residents met to talk about November and beyond.
The rules were simple: There would be no debate about Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton. There’s already plenty of talk about Republican and Democratic candidates seeking election this fall in state and federal races, Phil Miller, a local Libertarian, told those gathered. Wednesday night, the group’s discussion would focus on the Libertarian Party’s platform and its slate of candidates.
Residents met candidates Rex Bell, the Libertarian running for governor and first gubernatorial candidate to visit Hancock County this year; and Rick Brown, who is running for the District 53 State Representative seat currently held by Republican Bob Cherry.
Brown, a small-business owner who serves as the deputy treasurer of Madison County, said he worked in politics as a Republican for years before realizing his values and beliefs aligned better with Libertarians. Now, he hopes to represent residents living in Hancock and Madison counties at the state level. He faces Cherry, who has held the seat since 1998, and Democrat Nancy Tibbett.
“I spent years working in politics believing I was working for the right thing,” he said. “The closer I got to the inner circle, the more of a bad taste it left in my mouth.”
Brown doesn’t support big government — citizens should run their own lives, not politicians, he said.
Government isn’t capable of showing compassion, Brown said. He told a story about a group of young football players from Hamilton Heights that traveled to Kokomo, which was hit by a tornado last week, to help with clean up efforts. Brown was there as people gathered to pick up tree limbs and debris left behind by the storm.
“It was such a moment of community, and it didn’t take government to do that — all it took was people caring and doing the right thing,” he said. “I believe that’s what’s important, and I think we’ve allowed government to take over for us.”
He encouraged residents to vote the slate of Libertarians running for federal, state and local races Nov. 8.
Bell, who has run unsuccessfully for various offices nine times, faces Republican Lt. Gov. Eric Holcomb and Democrat John Gregg for governor.
Bell, who lives in Wayne County, where he serves as the local party chairman, said he wants to be governor to reduce the size of government. Other parties are looking to expand government, but Libertarians want to see few mandates and less taxes, he said.
He said he believes the tax system is too convoluted and wants to repeal property and income taxes, he said. He’d look to increasing the sales tax to pay for taxpayer-funded programs and services instead, he said.
“It’s just a complicated system,” Bell said. “We can make it simpler than it is.”
Miller said citizens would be able to better understand just how big government is and how much of their paycheck is going to taxes if just one tax, like sales tax, were collected.
“They start taking it out of one pocket — could you imagine how quickly you’ll be all about making government smaller?” he said.
Libertarian candidates for state office met with local residents Wednesday night to encourage them to vote Libertarian this fall.
Libertarians on the ballot include:
Gary Johnson – president
Bill Weld – vice president
Rex Bell – governor
Rick Brown Jr. – state representative, District 53