A lot of Liberty packed into one weekend
by Rob Yates
LPNC Communications Director
Comic by Noah Zenger
A spirited reception, a campaign announcement, bylaws and new officers, and an all-star lineup of speakers...
The Silicon Valley Bank crash was actually a fitting backdrop for a full, productive weekend at the LPNC State Convention, with its theme of "Celebrate Local" a stark contrast to the national news headline.
I want to start by saying how gracious and helpful the staff at the Village Inn was. The service was excellent, the accommodations were comfortable, and we were allowed to conduct our business in peace. Shout-out to the woman at the counter (withholding her name for privacy reasons) who gave Treasurer Mike Ross and I some hope with her pursuit of Liberty.
Registration and the welcome reception began Friday evening in the hotel bar. Old friends, familiar faces, and new Liberty warriors all came together to share some laughs and libations as we geared up for the weekend ahead.
We were happy to spare a few minutes to listen to Kelly Mann, Grassroots Director for The John Locke Foundation, who dropped by to share details on the wonderful and in-depth research the John Locke Foundation provides. Kelly is also a contributor to the Carolina Journal. If you are not using the resources these two entities make available, you are selling yourself short.
Of course, the highlight of the evening was Mike Ross announcing that he would be seeking the Libertarian nomination for North Carolina's gubernatorial race in 2024. After a poignant introduction by Liberty warrior Pastor Moses Colbert, best known for his ardent and selfless defense of those who have nothing, Mike gave his announcement speech to the gathered convention attendees. The crowd was boisterous with excitement, and the applause was loud as Mike finished his speech and introduced his team.
Saturday started off extraordinarily smoothly given the unusual requirement that a convention Chair needed to be selected. Fortunately, LPMeck Chair Steven DiFiore was up to the task, and he did an outstanding job of, as one of the younger attendees put it, "herding cats, only they all have their claws out."
Steven delivered the State of the Party address for outgoing Chair Joe Garcia, and we observed a moment of silence to memorialize fallen Liberty warriors Donald Reid Deal and Tom Howe. After that, it was down to business.
Somehow, we got through ten bylaw amendment proposals, one resolution, and a 90-minute lunch break before Executive Committee and Judicial Committee elections began. There were even two votes that received unanimous support, proving that nothing is impossible.
Once nominations began for EC positions, I was struck by how many qualified and passionate people we have working together in the party. Elections went quickly, and we ended up with an exciting slate for the EC (I plan to get interviews with each of them in the upcoming weeks), as well as the Judicial committee.
For LPNC Executive Committee, the delegates elected:
- Chair: Ryan Brown
- Vice-Chair: Sean Haugh
- Secretary: Dee Watson
- At-Large: Christina Aragues
- At-Large: Nick Taylor
- At-Large: Mac Browder
- At-Large: Angela Humphries
For Judicial Committee, the delegates elected:
- Ken Penkowski
- Phil Jacobson
- Steven DiFiore
- Tom Bailey
- Sarah Brady
Saturday Evening - Time to Let Loose
Our speakers began as we were finishing up dinner, and we were lucky to have two of the most effective and powerful voices in the Liberty movement address us. Dan Smotz, host of The System is Down podcast, was the opening speaker, and Larry Sharpe was the keynote speaker. Their speeches, while different in substance, covered similar themes, as they called for party unity, reinforced the need for hard work, extolled the advantages of putting aside your ego to communicate, and closed with messages of hope.
We went straight into the auction, emceed by Larry. Items ranged from questionable to exceptional, but all those who won their bids were happy, and we raised some money to boot.
Sunday's session opened with energy, despite the weight of the time change hanging over us, as Christina Aragues gave a detailed seminar on how to run a successful campaign. Christina is an experienced candidate who has run some of the most successful campaigns in LPNC history, and she gives a fun and informative perspective on how to replicate her success.
Next was the Governor candidate forum. Mike Ross answered questions about education, the second amendment, criminal justice reform, and nullification, among others, laying out his plan for a successful Libertarian candidacy and governorship. When he thought he was finished, the three presidential candidates each surprised Mike with a question of their own before their panel started.
As mentioned, the next item on the agenda was a panel with presidential candidates Chase Oliver, Mike ter Maat, and Jacob Hornberger. They answered questions about their candidacies, their solutions to problems we are facing as a country, Libertarian messaging, and host of others for about 45 minutes. The session was engaging and educational from three exemplary stewards of the Liberty movement and representatives of the party.
The day and the event closed with a presentation by Kim Acer covering our affiliate strategy. She explained where we stood, where we would like to see growth, and how we plan to achieve it. For a theme of "Celebrate Local," instead of the contrast of the national background under which we opened convention, Kim's affiliate discussion was a perfect and appropriate ending. I highly encourage anyone who is not currently participating to join your local affiliate or start one yourself; we have several unaffiliated counties waiting for you to organize.
There is plenty more to come from convention. There are videos, pictures, speeches, and additional write-ups and interviews, but I wanted to make sure to capture some of the magic of the weekend quickly, before it got too far away. Zac Lentz and the convention planning committee nailed it. Now it's time to take the energy from this weekend and ride that to so much success for the party.