By Jennifer Floyd
Election years often see new members flocking to alternative parties and the Libertarian Party is no exception. Opening night of the 2016 Libertarian Party of Illinois State Convention hosted over one hundred attendees in a standing-room-only event to watch seven of the party’s presidential candidates debate before the nominating convention in April.
The candidates who participated were; Dr. Marc Allen Feldman, Cecil Ince, former New Mexico Governor Gary Johnson, Austin Petersen, Derrick Michael Reid, Rhett Smith, and Shauna Sterling. The event was moderated by Libertarian Party of Illinois State Chair Lex Green, video blogger Julie Borowski, and talk radio host from WMAY 970 AM in Central Illinois Greg Bishop. The event was live-streamed via YouTube and is available for viewing through the Metro East Libertarian YouTube page offering a second look at the alternative options in leadership.
Saturday featured a luncheon presentation by Julie Borowski and her topic “Why You Should Be Optimistic” speaking about how libertarian ideals are gaining traction and the strides we have made to be a more tolerant society. Other events included a presentation honoring the memory of Mark Agnini, a pivotal member of several northern chapters who died in a car accident last fall, workshops on interviewing and petitioning, and entertainment in the form of Libertarian-themed Jeopardy.
The convention closed out with the annual business meeting and the nomination of state party candidates. Claire Ball secured the nomination for Comptroller and is the only trained and active accountant seeking the position. Scott Schluter was nominated for the 117th District in the Illinois General Assembly, and Jake Leonard will be running for the 95th District of the Illinois House. Finally, by a narrow margin, Kent McMillen won nomination for the US Senate candidacy over Chris Michel.
All the candidates must now begin to petition for the right to be on the ballot this fall in Illinois. Libertarians, as “new party” candidates, according to state law, must gather a minimum of 25,000 signatures to gain ballot access whereas Republicans or Democrats must only gather 5,000. This year, however, has seen a small change with the recent court decision striking down Illinois’ full slate requirement, opening the door to the Libertarians and other parties in running for election.