Oh yes, the Libertarian Party of Illinois State Convention this weekend was full of just the right kind of freedom loving enthusiasm you would expect to encounter. We had watchdogs groups tell tales of how they thwarted local corruption, party leaders give speeches that motivate and inspire the best in all of us, candidates making their announcements heard loud and clear, and of course entertainment and fun that come in official forms like Libertarian jeopardy and unofficial forms that go on until 4am. The weekend was magnificent.
Nicholas Sarwark is the Chair of the Libertarian National Committee, and has an impressive record, previously serving as chair of the Libertarian Party of Maryland and as vice chair of the Libertarian Party of Colorado, where he played a key role in recruiting the state’s 42 Libertarian candidates in 2014.
Friday night at the convention saw Nicholas and Libertarian Party of Illinois chair Lex Green kick back, each holding a beer in one hand and a microphone in the other, as they entertained the crowd with stories and answered questions. Afterwards, the night rounded out with an R rated comedy routine by the state party Deputy Treasurer and dedicated member from the Will County chapter Mike Weinberg. The official festivities ended just after 10pm, though I spent time with the more active members till almost 4am. Yeah, you read that right. Not the brightest move when you consider the State Organizing Committee meeting was at 8am, but it was a blast.
The SOC meeting and annual meetings went smoothly, with little changes in the party structure, and a minor change to the state party bylaws.
Crystal Jurczynski hosted a workshop titled “Who’s Driving?” which is designed to help candidates get experience in dealing with interviewers while receiving feedback in real-time as they conduct the interviews.
Jacob Huebert with the Liberty Justice Center spoke on “The Prospects for Liberty in Illinois” and Jan and Don Stover from the Owl Creek Gazette gave a presentation on “Communicating Libertarianism to the Self-Reliant Movement.”
A group that we know very well in DuPage is the Edgar County Watchdogs, who were instrumental in bringing down the corruption at College of DuPage, of which Claire Ball ran as a trustee in April of 2015. Kirk Allen and John Kraft gave, quite possibly, one of the best presentations ever at a state party convention, discussing their victories and sharing their strategies with members.
Just before dinner, yours truly hosted the popular Libertarian Jeopardy! With new categories like “Give Me Subpoenas and Cracker Jacks,” “Animals In the White House That Weren’t Elected” and “Give Me Liberty Or Grope My Junk!” players had opportunities to score big points in topics ranging from modern terrorism to the Civil War. Chris Madden from the Champaign chapter was the winner AGAIN this year, after cleaning house last year. Congrats.
Founding “den mother” Fran Holt gave a very inspiring speech reminiscing about her days in the party going back to 1971 before there even was a state or national party. Fitting with the theme of the convention “We’ve Always Been Here,” Fran talked about all the things we’ve done over the years, and what changes we’ve brought about simply by being vocal and having our say. We may not win many elections, but we still accomplish many goals. Thank you, Fran, for giving such an inspiring speech and for representing your home base here in DuPage County.
State Chair Lex Green gave away awards just before Nicholas Sarwark gave an amazing presentation titled “Show Up, Be Nice, and Win” to those in attendance on Saturday night. It was very uplifting and highly inspiring – it became very obvious why Nicholas was elected to be the National Party Chair, and we were glad to have him.
The most prominent event of the weekend was the announcements from candidates both statewide and local.
The big surprise and highlight of the candidates was the announcement from candidate for trustee at College of DuPage Claire Ball to run for Illinois Comptroller. Being a full-time working accountant with a Master’s Degree in Accounting, Claire is pursuing earning her CPA this summer while building her campaign.
Chris Michel, who announced his candidacy for the nomination to be the libertarian candidate for US Senate in 2016, also gave a speech discussing his plans to “Fix it with freedom” regarding the problems we have in our nation today. Chris is a small business owner and is married with four children, and was the candidate for Secretary of State for the Libertarian Party of Illinois in 2014.
Also appearing was former Republican candidate for Illinois Comptroller William J. Kelly, who announced on Friday at the state capitol his plans for “exploring a race for US Senate against Mark Kirk” though made no specific references to running for the libertarian nomination in March. He also did not mention this intention at the convention.
Of the local candidates, Christopher Hicks is running on the Libertarian Party ticket for the 95th representative district, and Scott Schluter is running to represent the 117th district in 2016 for the Illinois House of Representatives.
On behalf of the DuPage Libertarians, we would like to thank Lupe Diaz for putting together an amazing convention this year, and look forward to what he has in store for 2016. What a great year!!