for Soil & Water
Joseph Wendt, 2012 candidate for Florida’s Soil and Water Conservation Board, netted the largest Libertarian Party vote total in his state, and one of the largest in the nation, running on a platform to defund and abolish the board he was campaigning to join.
“I am going to be blunt, the board is a waste of your tax dollars,” Wendt wrote on his campaign website. “It has a budget of about a quarter of a million dollars. What do they do with it? They fund a poster contest, and have 2 full-time employees that act like plumbers and doesn’t fix anything. Gee, call me crazy, but I think your tax dollars should and can be better spent. So, I want the County to stop funding the Board.”
He realized that it would take more than that to keep taxpayer funds safe, though, and made the next logical step a centerpiece of his campaign.
“We will need to abolish the Soil and Water Conservation Districts,” Wendt wrote. “This board has done nothing but waste valuable taxpayer dollars and has the potential to levy taxes for so-called ‘agricultural projects.’ It won’t be easy, since abolition requires either a majority of property owners to sign a petition or the signature of the Florida Secretary of Agriculture, then approval from the state legislature. This will be my long-term goal, a goal that we will reach with the help of the voters.”
Campaigning on big, bold Libertarian solutions like this can bring significant voter attention and support, as Wendt discovered when he received 166,126 votes on election day, 43 percent of the vote. He spread that message in person and through the invaluable assistance of local LP volunteers, but he primarily focused on his online presence.
“I put up yard signs wherever I could,” Wendt said, “But it was largely an Internet campaign.”
Wendt had considered running for state representative as a Republican in 2010, but as a long-time fan of the limited-government views of Ron Paul, he quickly grew disaffected with the establishment GOP. When members of the local Libertarian Party affiliate asked him to become involved, he jumped at the chance. He has since become treasurer of the Hillsborough County LP affiliate, and said that he may seek a position in state party leadership.
The near-win of his race and the outstanding vote total he received has Joseph Wendt excited to run again, aiming to win in 2014.