Libertarians will expand local election efforts

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GREENFIELD — A small number of Libertarians in Hancock County are making plans to ramp up the Libertarian Party’s local presence, with the objective of winning races or at least increasing the profile of the third-party alternative.

The Hancock County Libertarian Party recently held a meeting to elect officers, and Luke Lomax became its new chairman. Lomax also serves as the 6th District representative on the Libertarian Party’s state committee, and he said there’s an opportunity in Republican-dominated Hancock County for Libertarians to make inroads.

“We’re very much looking forward to the opportunity to present a third option on that ballot, or a second option,” Lomax said.

Two Libertarian candidates plan to run in upcoming elections — Nathan Luke for Hancock County Council in 2022, and Larry Silver for mayor of Greenfield in 2023. Lomax said there will also be Libertarians on the ballot in 2022 running for attorney general of Indiana and for the U.S. Senate.

“We’ve kind of been working to revive the party” on the local and state level, Lomax said.

They’re hoping to capitalize on the performance of the party in Indiana’s 2020 election for governor, when Libertarian candidate Donald Rainwater won 11.4% of the vote. That’s well above what its presidential candidate, Jo Jorgenson, scored on either the state or national level. Many Rainwater voters, including some in Hancock County, said they cast their votes in protest of Gov. Eric Holcomb’s COVID-19 policies, such as lockdowns and mask mandates, which they felt were overly restrictive.

Lomax said the Hancock County Libertarian Party currently has about 18 active members, but he doesn’t think the small size will prevent the party from continuing to grow or from helping its candidates mount campaigns.

“There’s some county affiliates out there that are doing some really great stuff with half of the people that we’ve got,” he said.

In general, Libertarians favor a smaller role for government, lower taxes and less regulation. Spending is a major concern for Larry Silver, the first candidate to declare that he’ll be running for mayor when Chuck Fewell retires in 2023.

Luke, who operates a pinball machine company and lives in Greenfield, is waiting for the process of county council redistricting to be completed before he formally declares which seat he will be running for, Lomax said. Districts 2 and 3, currently held by Republicans Mary Noe and Jim Shelby, will be up for a vote.

As Silver campaigns for the mayoral position, he said he hopes to emphasize that Greenfield’s tax rates for citizens could be lower if the city spent less.

“I’m going to keep highlighting the fact that the city’s wasting too much money,” Silver said.

Silver criticized the city government for maintaining a $1.5 million “rainy day” fund, intended to fulfill unexpected financial needs. If there is money left over from an annual budget, he said, the city should return the balance to the citizens.

“Government truly is a nonprofit, so there shouldn’t be any surplus at the end of the year,” he said.

He also said the city spends too much money on parks, and on its mayor. If Silver were in the mayor’s office, he said, he would cut the office’s salary from around $89,000 to about $55,000, and eliminate the office’s travel budget.

Silver said the largest part of his campaign will involve talking to citizens by going from door to door and appearing at public events. He said he’s optimistic that the Libertarian Party, and his bid for the mayor’s office, will find support in Greenfield.

“We have a lot of volunteers on board, and we have quite a bit of support from the state party,” Silver said.

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