Florida Libertarians hope for chance to edge out the two major parties this November

05/19/14 Crystal Farina
WMNF Drive-Time News Monday | Listen to this entire show:
Tags: Adrian Wyllie, Libertarian Party, 2014 election, Bill Wohlsifer, Lucas Overby, CD 13


From left, Bill Wohlsifer for Attorney General, Adrian Wyllie for Governor, Ray Netherwood for US Congress, Karen Schoen for Florida State Representative and Lucas Overby for Congressional District 13.

photo by Crystal Farina

This November, the Libertarian Party wants Florida voters to ditch the two party system. During their annual statewide convention in downtown Tampa Saturday, Libertarians laid out a model of more freedom and less government.

Lucas Overby is running for Congress against Republican David Jolly again this November. He says he’ll be changing his strategy, but not his principles. Part of that is letting voters know the differences between him and David Jolly. He says his women’s rights and public service activism is what sets him apart.

“I did mostly rape crisis counseling, rape awareness. I worked a lot with SOAR, I was a silent producer for Vagina Monologues, I met a lot of different activist groups through there. I did a lot of fundraising. I’ve worked more recently with CASA, I helped with the Pinellas expansion of CASA into the gate community for one of the largest abuse areas, it was actually gay couples’ abuse goes very largely unreported.”

Libertarians are running Adrian Wyllie in this year’s gubernatorial election. He’s focusing on a 30% state budget cut, unregulated state commerce and homestead tax exemptions.

“With the Florida Interstate Commerce Act, anything that is produced, grown, fabricated in Florida, and distributed in and sold in Florida, will be immune from any federal regulation whatsoever. Now we can do that based on the commerce clause of the United States Constitution. The federal government only has the authority to regulate commerce between the states, not within the states. There is precedence for this, Kansas recently did it with firearms.”

When asked how a 100% homestead tax exemption would affect funding for public education, Wyllie says that classrooms are not getting the money.

“We currently spend on K through 12 education in Florida, an average of $12,000 per student per year. Now if that money were actually making it to the classroom, that would be roughly a quarter million dollars per classroom. That’s a pretty good operating budget and on that kind of money, we wouldn’t have teachers who have to go to Wal-Mart to buy crayons.”

Most Libertarians don’t support Common Core, the new teaching standard to replace Florida’s Comprehensive Assessment Test, or FCAT, during the next year. Karen Schoen is a candidate for Florida State Representative in the Panhandle. She says that Common Core doesn’t allow room for critical thinking.

“We are teaching the children what to think, not how to think. It’s not necessarily standards are that the issue, it’s the content of the material. And the content of the material we have found is largely anti-American, anti-god, anti-family and it does not belong in a classroom. It is the job of the school to teach the child how to think, not what to think.”

The Libertarian candidate for Attorney General, Bill Wohlsifer, has different priorities.

“The attorney general also has the statutory authority under section 16.52 to reschedule controlled substances under the controlled substance list of Florida. And I will, on my first day, remove industrial hemp, which would be strains of cannabis below .5 THC level from the controlled substance list, so we can have an industrial hemp business here in Florida.

He also believes in loosening Florida’s agricultural regulations.

“We have a lot of vacant land, a lot of vacant farm land, in the past it was cotton, it was tobacco, it was citrus. It needs a new agri-crop and that is going to be industrial hemp. Florida’s the largest importer of hemp in the United States, it is ridiculous that we can import it, but we cannot grow it here in the Sunshine State.”

In 2008, Florida added a constitutional amendment further defining marriage as being between one man and one woman. Currently, there are eight gay couples who were married in different states but who live in Florida suing the Florida government. Wohlsifer says both he and the party support LGBT rights.

“It’s no longer constitutional, what we have here in Florida. I’ve been advocating that even before running, and as attorney general, I will concede the fact that the plaintiff’s case, now proceeding in Miami-Dade County, should be decided in favor of the plaintiff. I would not continue to defend that as our current attorney general is.”

Wohlsifer also supports Florida state prison reform for non-violent crimes.

We have right now in Florida, we have nearly 50% of our prison populations for non-violent crimes. We need to end that. We’ve got a huge—we’ve got 5% of the world’s population, 25% of the prison population. We can fix that, we can fix that through clemency. And it costs right now about $18,000 a year to house an inmate in Florida state prison. We can save $400 million a year by removing 25% of those.

He says that non-violent convicted felons contribute to Florida’s unemployment.

“Not only are these folks being convicted for victimless crimes, but they’re not hirable after that. And with that I also would like to ban the box on the application for Florida employees and to an extent, we can do it on the private sector. I’m referring to the box that says, “Are you convicted of a felony?” because when you check that box, you’re not going to get hired. And disproportionately, minorities are checking that box, 1 out of 3. So there’s a racial effect to that and these are the conversations I want to have on Florida affairs.”

Other than Adrian Wyllie, Libertarians are not facing opponents in a primary. John Wayne Smith is also running for governor. Gubernatorial debates will take place at Broward College on October 15th. The general election is scheduled for November 4th.

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