This story was originally written, and posted at The Libertarian Party of Pinellas County website.
Saturday the Libertarian Party of Pinellas County brought together all of the candidates for city council in St. Petersburg for an unbiased forum intended to educate the population on the candidates running. Candidates from as many different walks of life as different backgrounds came, all looking excited and happy to be there, filled with a sense of relief that there is a group out there who will allow them to get their voices out to the public. This was not the first forum a few of them had been invited to, but for others it was, as other forum hosts focused on exclusion, rather than inclusion of all qualified candidates. The event was covered by Bay News 9, and overall was considered a rousing success by everyone in attendance.
The glory of being an affiliate of the Libertarian Party is that we never have to endorse a single candidate. We have the wonderful ability to host these events for the sole function of educating the voters who actually care about their local government, and the politicians running for the positions that will affect them the most. Having the safety blanket of being able to endorse or support NOTA (or None Of The Above for those out there who never realized such an endorsement was possible) allows the freedom to listen to what all the candidates say, and instead of ignoring what you don’t like about a candidate who you will endorse blindly because of the letter following his or name, you get to listen to what you like and dislike about a candidate without fear of backlash against your preferred party.
At this forum I found I enjoyed most of the candidates. Many of them were engaging, and fun speakers to listen to, and watch, even if I could tell I wouldn’t endorse them in a political race. This doesn’t mean I wouldn’t grab a coffee with them, or even catch a movie with them one weekend, it just means I wouldn’t spend a Tuesday in November marking their names on a list of many.
Having the ability to see the candidates talk openly about what they see for the future of St. Petersburg, without pandering to a specific audience (Or they showed even more integrity for not speaking specifically to our beliefs), gives the public a chance to see what it is exactly these candidates stand for. It is easy to get lost in the minutia of the event; the excitement one may feel when an audience member shouts out a evangelical “MMHHMM” while agreeing with the words of a candidate like he was a member of a southern baptist church right out of rural Georgia, the laughter shared by many when a candidate paused for a moment after hearing a question to answer with a simple, ” Well…yes,” or the personal joy I found in attempting to not audibly giggle when I realized one of the candidates was the spitting image of Edna “E” Mode from The Incredibles. But it is still always beneficial for everyone in attendance, or those who may watch the videos online, or read the candidates questionnaires to be informed when they head to their local voting places this November.
I know the people I would endorse from the event, and out of the eight candidates in attendance there was only two…maybe three…,but I will digress from giving my opinion until the entire LPPC has had a chance to see all of the candidates and we as an affiliate have voted on who, if any of the candidates have proved themselves worthy of garnering our endorsement.
The true joy I found from the event was that people from the county, whether they were in the districts of those running or not, came out to learn about the people who would be running their city. It gives me hope that not all is lost, and that is hope I don’t mind wasting my time with.