Calimesa mayor elected as new supervisor in Riverside County
The provisional and absentee ballots have finally been counted, and Libertarian Jeff Hewitt has been declared the new supervisor-elect for the 5th District of Riverside County, Calif. Hewitt, the former Libertarian mayor of Calimesa, garnered 51.9 percent of the vote. His opponent, Republican former Assemblyman Russ Bogh, received 48.1 percent.
This is arguably the largest, most momentous win in Libertarian Party history. The population of Riverside County is estimated by the U.S. Census Bureau at 2,423,266 for 2018, which makes this southern California county in the Inland Empire the 11th-largest county in the United States. It’s larger than the populations of 15 different states. Hewitt’s district alone has a population of more than 438,000. Other Libertarians have been elected to state House positions over the years, including Andre Marrou in Alaska and several in New Hampshire. All of them, however, were elected in districts with populations of less than 50,000.
Riverside County has appropriated spending of $5.6 billion in 2018-19 on revenues of $5.4 billion, and has scheduled the use of fund balances, net assets, and reserves to cover the $200 million shortfall. As one of five supervisors, Hewitt will have 20 percent of the board’s vote. His considerable persuasive abilities will aid him in doing something about that budget shortfall going forward. Longtime Libertarian activist and Hewitt Campaign Manager Matthew “Boomer” Shannon will be Hewitt’s Chief of Staff.
Jeff Hewitt’s momentous victory is no flash in the pan. He started in politics as a member of the Calimesa Planning Commission in 2004 before being elected to the city council in 2011 and finally mayor in 2015. In 2014 he ran for the California Senate in District 23. He’s also the chair of the Riverside County Libertarian Party, and serves as the Region 4 representative to the Libertarian National Committee.
As mayor of Calimesa, Hewitt successfully ended the city’s CalFire contract, which had saddled the city with bankruptcy-inducing pension obligations. Hewitt instituted a city fire department that costs less and provides more protection, replacing the firefighters’ unaffordable defined-benefit pensions with 401(k) funds, which are common in the private sector. This change also eliminated two layers of administrative costs at the county and state levels.
Hewitt campaigned on doing for Riverside County what he had done for Calimesa. He was able to win despite massive spending by government employee unions. He also earned endorsements from the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association and the Press Enterprise, the largest local newspaper.
“We ran a real campaign with a real chance of winning,” Hewitt said. “I need to stress my heartfelt thanks to my campaign manager Boomer Shannon and the team of volunteers who knocked on doors and left behind a forest of Hewitt lawn signs.” Shannon, a long-time California Libertarian activist, said the race was won by “good ol’ fashioned politicking.” Hewitt’s good showing at the polls represents “the world turned upside down,” he said.
“We are incredibly proud of this great win for liberty in our lifetime by Jeff and his campaign staff,” said Libertarian National Committee Chair Nicholas Sarwark.
The Hewitt victory is the leading example of how to build the Libertarian Party from the grassroots of local electoral offices. Out of the 833 Libertarians who ran for office this year, 53 won — 36 of them in the November election.
There have been several 2018 wins for the Libertarian Party:
- Cole Ebel, chair of the Libertarian Party of Tennessee, won his race for Carthage City Council and joined his wife, Smith County Commissioner Erika Ebel, in holding elected office.
- Vince Workman won his race for Burnsville City Council in Minnesota, joining Libertarian Councilmember Cara Schulz, the Libertarian Party’s candidate-recruiting specialist. Also in Minnesota, Olga Parsons was elected to the Crystal City Council and Nick Roehl won a seat on the Plymouth City Council, Ward 2.
- Four Libertarians in Indiana were elected to public office, with Cheryl Heacox winning for Clay township advisor and Dean Hartley for Franklin Township Board, both winning top-three positions. Terry Coffman was elected to the Liberty Township Board and Jamie Owens was elected as a Liberty township trustee.
- Libertarian Shannon Denniston won her race for Montgomery County magistrate in Kentucky.
- In Florida, Libertarian Shawn Elliott was elected to the Indian River Soil and Water Conservation in District 1 with 68 percent of the vote. James Chipman won for Batram Springs Community Development District, Seat 2; Michael Cassidy won for Clay County Soil and Water Conservation in District 5; Thomas Werfel won for Hamilton County Soil & Water Conservation District supervisor; Shawn Elliott won an Indian River Soil & Water Conservation District 1 seat; Jordan Bosserman won a seat on the Suwannee County Conservation District, Group 4; and Martha Bueno won for West Kendall Community Council Board.
- In South Carolina, Artie Buxton won his race for school board in District 1, with 67 percent of the vote.
- Larry Bush won a seat on the Jarrell City Council in Texas.
- In Arizona, Levi Tappan was elected mayor of Page City.
- Keith Ottersberg won a seat on the Wymore City Council in Nebraska.
- Scott Wooden of California won a seat on the Del Mar Union school board.
- In Vermont, Jerry Abbott won his bid for justice of the peace in Bennington.
Also of note are three Tennessee Libertarians elected by the voters on Aug. 2. Joshua Beale surpassed his Republican opponent to become county commissioner in Montgomery County’s District 14, with 54.8 percent of the vote. Ballot Access News reports that this is “believed to be the first partisan election in Tennessee in which a minor party member was elected since 1974.” Stephen Chambers was elected as mayor of Trousdale County in a two-way race, defeating the incumbent with 54.4 percent of the vote. Erika Ebel was among three candidates elected as county commissioners in Smith County, District 4, in a four-way race.
The Libertarian Party has also laid solid groundwork for future electoral success by gaining high enough vote totals to secure automatic ballot access in Indiana, Massachusetts, New York, Oklahoma, Wyoming, and Washington, D.C., which will allow future candidates to focus on their campaigns rather than the costly and painstaking process of petition qualification.
This news release was picked up by the Washington Times on Dec. 7 in a story by Jennifer Harper.