Mike Ross at the Fayetteville City Council Meeting
LPNC Gubernatorial candidate Mike Ross attended a city council meeting in Fayetteville and wrote about his experience for the Tar Heel.
On Tuesday, April 11, I had the great privilege of standing with the passionate people of Fayetteville, NC, as they gathered together against the naked power grab the city council is attempting. When I reference the "uniparty," I mean that elected officials from both parties put their own interests ahead of their constituents', without fail, and Fayetteville's city council is proving no exception. As disheartening, if unsurprising, as it was to see politicians being politicians, the resolve of the Fayetteville citizens who turned up to make their voice heard was exponentially more encouraging.
The issue at hand is a proposal by the Fayetteville City Council to extend the councilmembers two-year terms to staggered four-year terms. The council has moved the proposal forward thus far notwithstanding the fact that a similar proposal was voted down by almost 65 percent of voters in 2018. They are proceeding despite the presence of four new councilmembers on the ten-person body, all of whom have far to go before proving their merits to the voters.
Maybe most concerning, the council has moved the discussion to this stage without a shred of self-awareness, as the same city council voted not to investigate themselves or Mayor Colvin, barely a year ago, in the face of serious allegations of unethical behavior. The accusations came from former Councilwoman Tisha Waddell, who alleged serious impropriety and corruption on the part of the mayor and some council members prior to tendering her resignation in protest.
Seeing elected officials declare to their constituents that they no longer feel that they should face scrutiny and be held accountable for their performance at the previously agreed upon schedule, I find myself asking why more than anything else. The political figures who come to mind in discussion of extended terms – Hitler, Mao, Xi, Putin – are not people with whom any decent person, and certainly not any elected official in the U.S., should seek association.
This is not to say that the Fayetteville council members are despotic tyrants on the same scale as some of the worst people in recent history, and I want to be clear I am not implying that at all. I am simply pointing out that there is no discernable, articulable, rational reason for the council to seek extended terms that isn't completely self-serving, and completely self-serving is a dangerous pathway for politicians to follow.
When we say that power corrupts, we mean it. It's not difficult to believe that the mayor was engaged in shady dealings because he is able do so with very little fear of repercussion. It's just human nature. The entire philisophical bedrock of governance on which our country is built relies on the idea that elected officials are accountable to their constituents. Extending their terms of office is an action diametrically opposed to the principles of a democratic society, and more in line with an entrenched corporate board at a failing company.
In the face of this stark reminder that government will ultimately fail you, every time, without exception, the feeling I left with was not despair, but hope. I saw engaged citizens from all parties – Democrats, Republicans, Independents, and, of course, Libertarians – uniting against this power grab and demanding that their voices be heard.
Ending government overreach and making sure the public interest is the only special interest that North Carolina serves is the biggest reason I am running for Governor of this great state, and the people of Fayetteville left me encouraged that my vision of uniting regular people against our power-hungry rulers is not only possible, but that people are looking for change.
"To be, rather than to seem," our state motto is not just a catchy phrase - it's a call to action, to be true to ourselves, to be true to our values, and to be true to the principles of Liberty and freedom that unite us as Americans. And that means holding these politicians accountable and demanding that they do the same. Because at the end of the day, the real power doesn't come from the politicians. It comes from us, the people. All we have to do is decide we will no longer be ruled by the far-mongering and power hoarding from our political elites, and together we can #FireTheUniparty.
So to the Fayetteville City Council and all the other power-hungry politicians out there, I say this: we see you. We know what you're up to. And we're not going to let you get away with it. We'll be watching, we'll be organizing, and we'll be voting.
And to the people of Fayetteville, and of North Carolina, I promise you that, as Governor, I will never betray your trust. I will always put your interests first. Everything I do will be to restore your power, increase your Liberty, and improve your life. "To be, rather than to seem." It's not just a motto - it's a way of life. And if we stay true to that, there's no limit to what we can accomplish.
Mike’s website can be found here, volunteers can register here, and donations can be made here. Finally, check out his Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter.
Interview with Gubernatorial Candidate Mike Ross
This month, the Tar Heel caught up with LPNC Gubernatorial candidate Mike Ross. Mike announced his candidacy for the Libertarian nomination for the 2024 North Carolina governor race earlier this month at the state convention. Mike’s political profile has grown over the last two years as he led the charge to fight for the rights of homeless veteran Joshua Rohrer, who was assaulted by police leading to the death of his service dog, as well as Pastor Moses Colbert, against whom the City of Gastonia retaliated when he also defended Joshua.
We asked Mike about his candidacy, the issues that matter, his campaign strategy, Libertarians running competitive campaigns, and a whole host of other topics.
Mike’s website can be found here, volunteers can register here, and donations can be made here. Finally, check out his Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter.
Tar Heel: Mike, thank you for taking the time to speak with me today, and congratulations on your announcement. It's a big commitment to run for governor, and it had to start somewhere. What influenced your initial interest in politics and what specifically attracted you to the Libertarian philosophy?
Mike Ross: I've always been engaged in keeping an eye on how we are ruled, but it was only as things have continued to get worse that I felt the need to actually run for office. The idea of a free and independent people being the best route to prosperity for society is something I've always believed in, and Libertarian philosophy actually embraces governing with this idea in mind.
Tar Heel: You’ve been active politically, but not as a candidate. What finally changed to make you take the leap?
Ross: As I continue to see Republicans and Democrats pushing division instead of solutions, while embracing policy that is good for special interests but bad for North Carolinians, I felt like the largest group of voters in this state deserve having someone on the ballot who will make them the only special interest that matters.
Tar Heel: Now that you’re in the race, it’s certainly no secret that, while we are growing as a party, it has not yet translated to significant electoral success. How do you see yourself able to change this?
Ross: The veil of the uniparty has been lifted, and I see more people of different ideologies waking up to the systemic dismantling of Liberty at all levels of government. While being governor would allow me to bring real positive change to the lives of regular North Carolinians, I'm aware that at this point it is a very low probability shot. However, it's a great opportunity to grow the movement and inspire future candidates to fix things locally.
Of course, I'm running to win. If we want to be a serious influence on the North Carolina political landscape, it starts with being serious. I have a great team, and we have a strategy mapped out from now until the election. To have a shot, what I really need is volunteers to help out.
Tar Heel: How important is messaging, and what can we do to get our message out there more effectively?
Ross: Messaging is essential. We are competing against hundreds of millions of special interest money. To try to compete with money would be silly, but bringing an inspiring message with Libertarian solutions that will bring real improvement to regular people's lives is a way to fight back. Inspired people sharing the campaign with everyone they know is far more powerful than money.
Tar Heel: Do you see this differently on a national level, a state level, and at local levels?
Ross: Yes and no. The needs of every locality are different, but the root idea of decentralizing power resonates at all of those levels. The uniparty generally does the same thing at all levels as well, but the power is mostly only exerted by those in larger areas, and then disproportionately exerted on areas that just want to be left alone.
Tar Heel: Your campaign PAC is named "Fire the Uniparty.” What does that mean, and how do you message that to people under the umbrella of the uniparty?
Ross: Despite the theater of the Republicans and Democrats hating each other, they always seem to work together when it comes to advancing special interests over the people. I think the messaging is pretty straightforward… just tell the truth. The records of both Republicans and Democrats give plenty of evidence that despite what they say, they don't actually care about their voters.
Tar Heel: I know family is important to you. How are they handling what promises to be a long and intense campaign?
Ross: They're hanging in there. The time away will definitely be a sacrifice, but they understand why I have to run.
Tar Heel: Following up on that, what are the most important issues to you in North Carolina, and how does being so devoted to your family inform what issues you prioritize?
Ross: My platform covers the issues in more detail, but the economy, education, and healthcare are the most important issues for me. I'm blessed that my family is doing well in those areas, but millions of North Carolinians are suffering in those areas because of bad policy designed to benefit special interests at their expense. Stopping the government from making things unnecessarily harder for families is why I'm doing this.
Tar Heel: Polling shows that those are issues that are important to families in North Carolina. Coming back to messaging, how do you get your platform and the Libertarian argument out to North Carolina families?
Ross: I think it's going to take a grassroots movement to make it happen. I'm going to spend a lot of time talking about tangible Libertarian solutions and how they will make people's lives better. Real solutions, unlike the power grabs the uniparty proposes that won't make a difference for regular people. Combining digital content with boots on the ground in all 100 counties is the way I'm hoping to reach them.
Tar Heel: You’ve already had some success in getting some earned media and using the opportunity provided by other people’s platforms, with a nice interview on Larry Sharpe recently, and a solid article a couple weeks ago about the campaign. How do you build momentum from those?
Ross: I think it is about consistency and having a great team working with me. I'm going to keep building contacts and taking advantage of any opportunities to reach people.
Tar Heel: OK, break it down for us. What would you like to say to the Tar Heel readers and North Carolina more broadly?
Ross: To the Libertarians of North Carolina, I cannot do this without you. If you're able to help my campaign reach millions of North Carolinians, I need your help. Follow me online and share my content. Visit my website and sign up to help volunteer. If you're able, donate to my campaign. To actually fire the Uniparty will only be possible if we can start a true grassroots political revolution and that is going to take as much help as I can get. I can't do it without you, so let's change the world right here in North Carolina, together.
Tar Heel: Thank you again for your time today. Before we go, do you have any final thoughts you want to share?
Ross: I'd just want to thank them for taking their time to read this interview and tell them I hope to make them proud as a Libertarian candidate. If they want to learn more about my campaign, please check out firetheuniparty dot com. [editor's note: the website link is at the beginning of this interview]
Interview with Gubernatorial Candidate Shannon Bray
This month, the Tar Heel caught up with Shannon Bray. Shannon recently announced he will be seeking the Libertarian nomination for the North Carolina governor race in 2024. This is not his first run as candidate in NC; in both 2022 and 2020 he ran for the open Senate seats, including a widely publicized race last year that included Green Party nominee Matthew Hoh featuring a debate at Davidson College.
We wanted to talk to Shannon about his influences, his interests, his main issues, and his motivations. We also wanted to get his thoughts on messaging, which is a major topic of discussion at local, state, and federal levels of the LP right now.
Tar Heel: Shannon, thank you for taking the time to speak with me today, and congratulations on your announcement. What influenced your initial interest in politics and what specifically attracted you to the Libertarian philosophy?
Shannon Bray: I often joke that it was Sarah Palin that drove me to the Libertarian party but politics in general started to divide people running up to 2008. I took an online political test to find where my ideals best aligned. What I discovered was I was indeed Libertarian. When I moved to North Carolina in 2012, I registered as a Libertarian.
The presidency of Donald Trump ultimately led to a decision to let my voice be heard. At the time, I was working for the DoD and the government spending issues kept furloughing my paycheck. As a person who has worked for the federal government most of my life, I felt I had a unique perspective that others would gravitate to.
Tar Heel: This is your third major race in NC. What motivates you to sign up each time? Is it the same underlying drive, or do you find different reasons for different races?
Bray: With the absence of the US Senate race, I had anticipated taking a backseat in this election, but I have had a number of communities reach out and ask that I run this year; this time for Governor. Technology has advanced dramatically and most of our leaders lack the knowledge to take advantage of technologies. I guess to answer your question, each time has been different. What makes this time different is I have already raised more money for this coming election than I have for my previous two attempts.
Tar Heel: We have been talking about messaging recently. You are very publicly a proponent of crypto and other blockchain currency solutions. What got you into them, why do you think they are important, and where do you see them going?
Bray: Crypto is one of the reasons why it is important that I am in this race. My start in crypto goes back several years but my crypto vision is somewhat new. Most people look at crypto as a replacement for fiat currency, and while that is true, the birth of NFTs will change the way our society works with data. Not to mention, DOAs and other crypto-type projects can offer many benefits to local economies. One such example is City Coin.
Tar Heel: Are you concerned about government attempts to intervene in the crypto market, either directly through regulation, or roundabout through the creation of CBDCs?
Bray: Yes; government sponsored crypto defeats the point altogether. The people of the world need a decentralized currency that they own and cannot be stolen from them by the government.
Tar Heel: Beyond crypto, what issues do you consider to the most important heading into 2023 and the election in 2024?
Bray: Our economy needs help; we are in a recession. The White House is reporting good job numbers but that is only because Americans are having to work more than one job now to get by. This is their answer for counting inflation. I'm a father of three school-aged kids and school choice is important. As a veteran, I also need to ensure that my brothers and sisters have the best resources available to them as they transition out of war zones.
Tar Heel: The Green party faced some pretty significant challenges getting on the ballot last year in the latest example of serious gatekeeping by both duopoly parties. What can the Libertarian party do to spread its message and see electoral success despite this challenge?
Bray: Ultimately, this is why we must run. As a third party, we want our ideas heard. We want our candidates taken seriously but the duopoly has defined our political structure and made it difficult for independent voices to emerge. Ballot access is a constant fight which is why the Libertarian party and its members work so hard to ensure we have candidates on the ballot. Every vote we get helps us maintain our ballot access. I, and the other third-party candidates, have to fight for each vote we get and absolutely no vote was wasted. Each of those votes helps ensure someone's voice can be heard in the future.
Tar Heel: Going further, you and Matthew Hoh became friends during that campaign. Where do you see other opportunities to work together with people on issues where we share common ground?
Bray: I would love to see other candidates work together like Mathew and I did. I think it shows how we would work for North Carolina in Washington. That is not the nature of NC politics though. It is a dirty business with both sides throwing in dark money to muddy the waters.
Tar Heel: Very interesting, thank you for that insight. Looking more specifically at you, make your governor pitch. What can you bring to the people of NC and why should you get their support? What would you do on day one?
Bray: I have a fresh take on what our economy needs and I would like to ensure our state can act without the need of any support from the Federal government. I would introduce cannabis as a cash crop and bring aid to our farmers. Our school system needs a gut check; I'm here to provide it. I am a huge advocate of school choice. With my technology background, I can bring new markets to our state while not risking our environment.
On day one we will have Constitutional Carry by Executive Order.
Tar Heel: Following up on that, what would you like to share about yourself personally with people who might be voting for you?
Bray: I'm a bit of an open book. After leaving the US Navy, I started working in technology. Most of my life has been documented somewhere online. I understand the threats that face our nation and I also understand some of the domestic threats that face our state. I believe we can replace many of our outdated systems with new technology and we can do so without forcing the bill on our taxpayers.
Tar Heel: Thank you again for your time today. Before we go, do you have any final thoughts or messages you want to share with the people reading this?
Bray: I appreciate everyone for taking the time to read this. If anyone has any questions, feel free to reach out to me on Twitter at @shannonbrayNC or though my campaign resources. Thank you.
All of Shannon's links can be found here. Donations can be made here, and his campaign store is here. Finally, check out his website and his Twitter.
Meet the 2022 Candidates, part 2
NC Senate 14
I am running to return the power of personal choice to the citizens of district 14 and the state of NC. I want to give parents greater freedom to select the best educational options for their children by expanding educational savings accounts, scholarships, and vouchers. I want to reduce or eliminate zoning and land use laws so that people can maximize the economic benefit of their private property and developers can create the quantities and types of housing that are needed to increase supply and decrease the price of housing in our state. I want to eliminate unnecessary occupational licensing regimes that put a stranglehold on people's ability to leverage their natural talents and build wealth for their families, and I want to create an economic environment in this state that allows for new and innovative businesses to easily emerge and flourish. Lastly, I want to reform our criminal injustice system to bring it back within its constitutional guardrails. Half of the ten amendments in the Bill of Rights are specifically written to make it difficult to put people in cages, yet our state government imprisons a greater percentage of our NC population than almost every other developed nation and even some dictatorships in the third world.
We must end no knock warrants, curb pre-trial detention so that it is the exception and not the rule, limit our prosecutor's ability to utilize the plea bargaining process to coerce people out of their day in court, end qualified immunity so that government employees are liable to the same constitutional standards as citizens, and we must end the heinous practice of federal asset forfeiture sharing so that our law enforcement agencies are no longer criminals using citizens like an ATM machine whenever they need funds. I believe that the vast majority of our police are good, hard-working people that truly want to build trust with our communities, but we will never build that trust until the management of law enforcement agencies and prosecutors demand that the minority of bad actors stop being the bad guys and behave properly. Personal choice, freedom and liberty, and a society free from fear of government harassment is the roadmap to a better society. Peace and prosperity occur only when individuals are free to make rational choices for themselves, their families, and their communities, unimpeded by excessive government regulation.
NC Senate 15
We need to elect honest people with great personal integrity into leadership – not just CEOs and businessmen who look out primarily for themselves.
School choice and competition will help improve North Carolina's education system. No one dislikes public schools, but only competition and choice can push stodgy bureaucracies to make changes rather than just guarding entrenched special interests.
Zoning is far too restrictive. People need to be able to build duplexes, multi-family housing, accessory dwelling units, "granny flats," and cottage houses.
Wake County needs more housing, and we need to stop getting in the way of our own progress. Eliminating ABC Boards is a no-brainer. There is no need for government to be losing money trying to run grocery stores. Selling liquor is just a business and adults can make their own responsible decisions about where to buy it.
Government is about providing justice and fairness. That's what we need it to focus on.
Sammie Brooks for NC Senate 15
NC Senate 13
North Carolina has the most restrictive and expensive state system of alcoholic beverage control in the nation.
Some of the costs are paid in the form of a "tax" through higher operating costs, and unreasonably high monopoly salaries for local ABC officials. But much of the cost is paid through inconvenience and nonsensical restrictions on local access: our state has less than half the number retail outlets enjoyed by the surrounding southern states. There is no reason the state should maintain a monopoly on retail sales; private stores can take over this expense, and allow people to buy nearer their homes without driving 20 or 50 miles.
Many people object that having a high price deters excessive alcohol use; if you believe that, it is still time to end the old-fashioned and wasteful ABC. We can impose an alcohol tax that will keep prices about the same after privatization. The difference is that this tax will collect revenue, rather than the current "tax" of having to drive 30 minutes each way. The tax revenue can be used to expand opportunities for school choice in rural areas, communities that until now have depended on the state monopoly on education. If we are careful, we can offer better choices and increase personal responsibility in both alcohol sales and education in rural communities.
Michael C. Munger for NC Senate 13
NC House 34
More freedom for parents to choose what's best for their children, more opportunities for our small businesses, less regulation, and greater school and housing choice.
Wake County is thriving because of the energy, enthusiasm, forward-thinking, and hard work of our diverse small businesses. I want to encourage and stimulate that growth, not stifle it.
The diversity of our people should be reflected in the diversity of the choices they have to live, work, play, educate their children, and pursue their dreams. Government should, in most cases, get out of their way. Special interests should not dictate what choices are allowed. And no one should get special treatment.
Meet the 2022 Candidates, part 1
Dee Watson, NC Senate District 16
Hello, my name is Dee Watson and I am currently running as a Libertarian in for NC Senate district 16. I have over 20 years' experience working in clinical trials as a statistician and statistical programmer. I've always worked in places where opinions are formed from fact finding. When I see politicians selectively pick facts to bolster their opinions, I'm shocked by how counterproductive they are. The best way to solve any problem is to first acquire the relevant information. Then honest people typically agree on the best course of action. If elected, that's what I hope to bring to the capital. I understand that individuals are best suited to make their own decisions.
Government one size fits all decisions cause inefficiencies and needless waste. I will advocate against all government medical mandates. People own their own bodies and the government should never decide what an individual is required to put in or keep out of their body. The government has made it illegal to own a plant, but when someone is arrested, and they didn't harm anyone, the only victim is the person arrested. We need to end the criminalization of possession of firearms and drugs. Most importantly we need to realize that many children are not served best by government schools. We need to fund students, not systems in North Carolina.
David Coatney, US House District 11
My name is David Coatney, and I would like you to know that I have been happily married for 10 years and have been a small business owner since 2005. As the owner of a web marketing agency, I have dedicated my entire adult life to helping small businesses, and now I want to fight for policies that help Mom & Pop.
I saw how destructive government overregulation can be to small businesses and decided not to sit on the sidelines anymore. I was also motivated to fight for immigration reform after having experienced the immigration process firsthand with my wife Beth.
Sean Haugh, NC House District 31
I am running so the voters of my district can choose to radically reduce the size and scope of state government. Abolishing corporate welfare incentives, ending the war on drugs, expanding school choice, and privatizing alcohol sales are all easy Libertarian solutions that will massively reduce the state budget. There are also a whole host of regulations and taxes that we could eliminate so that everyone can enjoy more opportunities to seek prosperity for themselves and their families. We could start with permanently repealing all the healthcare regulations that were suspended because they turned out to be obstacles to our response to the pandemic.
Thomas Hill, Cabarrus County Soil & Water Supervisor
Social Media Coordinator for Dr. Mary Ruwart and founder of Healing Our America
As our county continues to attract new businesses and residents, we need to maintain our ecological balance by holding developers responsible for any negative impact upon our shared infrastructure and environment. We can welcome economic growth without sacrificing our principles and natural resources. The county should encourage all farmers and rural property owners to plant hemp as a form of erosion control. Win or lose, I will continue to monitor issues in our community and advocate for the level of stewardship required to ensure we all have clean air to breathe and clean water to drink