by Tim Hagan
Five recipients of the Libertarian Party’s Jefferson Award will be inducted into our Hall of Liberty during the 2018 Libertarian Party’s national convention in New Orleans.
In 2012, the Libertarian Party (LP) established the Hall of Liberty to honor lifetime or significant achievement having a lasting effect on the Libertarian Party or libertarian movement. Previously, the Thomas Jefferson Award had served as the award for lifetime achievement, the highest honor the Libertarian Party could bestow. Also in 2012, the awards committee changed the purpose of the Jefferson Award to recognize “outstanding leadership, high character, and dedication to the principles and goals of the party.”
These two changes inadvertently created a discontinuity in the awards. To resolve this, in December 2016, the Libertarian National Committee moved to induct into the Hall of Liberty all who had received the Thomas Jefferson Award for lifetime achievement prior to the 2012 changes. The motion was adopted without objection.
Four recipients of the Jefferson Award prior to 2012 already have been inducted in the Hall of Liberty: David Nolan, Ed Clark, Harry Browne, and Bill Redpath. Five pre-2012 Jefferson Award recipients have not been inducted into the Hall of Liberty. So these five Jefferson Award recipients — David Bergland, John Perry, Ron Crickenberger, Ruth Bennett, and Jim Lark — will be inducted during the LP’s biennial convention being held June 30 through July 3.
David Bergland was the 1976 Libertarian vice presidential candidate. In 1978, in his run for state senate, he was the first candidate to appear on the ballot as a Libertarian in California. He was the Libertarian presidential nominee in 1984, and later supported another presidential candidate, Harry Browne, as campaign co-chair. Mr. Bergland served as the party’s national chair from 1977 to 1981, and again from 1998 to 2000.
Mr. Bergland’s libertarian values and beliefs were formed long before he officially joined the party.
“I recall being a teenager and becoming involved in discussions, and — without having a name for it — always coming out on the side of personal responsibility and individual liberty,” he has said. “Upon discovering that there was a political organization that was along the same lines, there wasn’t much of a decision to make.”
Mr. Bergland is the author of the book Libertarianism in One Lesson, and a former adjunct professor of law at Western State University’s Colleges of Law in Fullerton and Irvine, California.
David Bergland received the Jefferson Award in 1998.
In 2001, John Perry was an avid Libertarian Party member and a New York City police officer. On September 11, Mr. Perry was at police headquarters in lower Manhattan to file his retirement papers. He was planning to leave the police force to join a small immigration law firm. When notice of the catastrophe at the World Trade Center came in over the police radio, Mr. Perry immediately left to help rescue citizens from the burning buildings. He was last seen on the mezzanine of the south tower, shortly before it collapsed. When the building began to collapse, a police captain warned Mr. Perry to evacuate, but he insisted on staying as long as there were people still inside. The captain barely got out in time, and he saw Mr. Perry disappear into the dust as the building fell.
Mr. Perry was a member of the Nassau County Civil Liberties Union, was active in the Police Brutality Commission, and had volunteered for Norman Siegal’s campaign for public advocate.
“As a libertarian and a police officer, John was dedicated to defending everyone’s right to life, liberty, and property,” said Richard Cooper, former chair of LP New York. “He was a true hero. He was a great Libertarian.”
Prior to joining the NYPD, Mr. Perry had worked as an immigration lawyer. He also worked as an extra in many films, and as a recurring character in the television soap opera, “Another World.”
John Perry received the Jefferson Award in 2002.
Ron Crickenberger was a highly visible and continuous activist in the Libertarian Party. He served as the LP’s political director from 1997 to 2003. Mr. Crickenberger was a member of the Libertarian National Committee from 1989 to 1997. He also served as the chair of the Libertarian Party of Georgia and was the southeast coordinator for Ron Paul’s 1988 presidential campaign. He also managed Bruce Van Buren’s winning campaign for the Avondale Estates (Georgia) City Commission in 1995.
As political director, he spearheaded multiple efforts, from getting Bob Barr defeated in his 2002 re-election bid, to providing a Libertarian Party presence at multiple anti-War on Drugs events. He participated in protests and established Libertarian campus organizations.
He also was involved with various partisan and nonpartisan groups and organizations, such as the Committee for Libertarian Majority and the November Coalition. In 2000, Campaigns and Elections magazine named Mr. Crickenberger a “rising star of politics.” They cited his role in increasing by 400 percent the number of Libertarians holding public office. He was the Libertarian Party’s 8th District of Virginia congressional candidate that year.
Mr. Crickenberger worked with the November Coalition and other drug law reform groups on the issues of the failed war on drugs. He was architect of the Libertarian Party’s Drug War Focus Strategy. His opposition to the War on Drugs was his signature issue, an issue that public opinion has moved heavily towards the libertarian perspective. Mr. Crickenberger passed away in 2004.
Ron Crickenberger received the Jefferson Award in 2004.
Ruth Bennett is a former Chair of the Libertarian Parties of both Washington and Colorado. She has served as regional representative, member at large, and secretary of the Libertarian National Committee. Ms Bennett has served as the vice chair of Outright Libertarians. In addition, she was the lead organizer for the 1981 and 1987 Libertarian national conventions. In 2000, Ms Bennett ran for lieutenant governor of Washington on the platform of abolishing that very office. In 2004, she ran for governor of Washington, a race in which she was the only candidate to support the legalization of same-sex marriage.
Ms Bennett is the executive director of the Funeral Consumer Alliance of Arizona and is a past president of the national board of the Funeral Consumers Alliance.
Ruth Bennett received the Jefferson Award in 2008.
Jim Lark served as the Libertarian Party’s national chair from 2000 to 2002, and has served several terms on the LNC; currently he is the Region 5 representative. He is a member of the LNC’s Executive Committee, and since 2014, has served as the LNC’s representative to the International Alliance of Libertarian Parties. He has also served on the platform committee numerous times and on the bylaws committee. He was a founding member of the board of directors of the Libertarian National Congressional Committee.
Dr. Lark is heavily involved with campus outreach, both for LP Virginia and the national party. He advises college and high school libertarians throughout the country, and has conducted several campus-organizing tours on behalf of the Libertarian Party. He is a member of the board of advisors of Students for Liberty.
He has served as chair of the Advocates for Self-Government, and currently serves as secretary of Liberty International (formerly the International Society for Individual Liberty). Dr. Lark frequently gives invited addresses at libertarian events throughout the world.
He is a member of the Foundation for Economic Education’s faculty network, and received the foundation’s 2017 Leonard E. Read Distinguished Alumni Award for Leadership.
Dr. Lark is a professor in the Department of Systems and Information Engineering and the Applied Mathematics program at the University of Virginia.
Jim Lark received the Jefferson Award in 2008. In addition, he is the recipient of the 2004 Samuel Adams Award and the 2012 Thomas Paine Award.
Hall of Liberty Members
- 2012: Ed Clark, John Hospers, Roger MacBride, David Nolan, and Tonie Nathan
- 2014: Harry Browne and Richard Winger
- 2016: Ron Paul and Bill Redpath
- 2018: Ruth Bennett, David Bergland, Ron Crickenberger, Jim Lark, and John Perry
Tim Hagan is the treasurer of the Libertarian National Committee and a member of its awards committee.