Originally posted on facebook. Paul Stanton was the 2016 Libertarian Florida US Senate nominee, and is currently on the LPF EC as a region rep and Vice Chair of the LP of Volusia County, among other LP roles.
The Libertarian Party of Florida state convention is this weekend, and we have to decide on the direction our party is going to take. One of those decisions is who to select for two of our officers and two of our at-large directors.
For chair, there are four candidates that I’m aware of, and I’d like to briefly mention each of them.
Char-Lez Braden: A lot of good could be said about our incumbent Chair. He is largely responsible for saving the party from near collapse. His quick thinking in crisis and soft-touch approach to leadership helped us “weather the storm.” His experience being a corporate CIO, in charge of several hundred IT people, is the kind of managerial experience one would expect for an organization our size. He is incredibly approachable and accessible to all members. His general phone policy is, “I’ll answer it if I can.” Not to mention, Char-Lez has weathered a constant barrage of abuse from a variety of sources within the party. It is honestly shameful the way we have allowed others within our party to treat him. All the while, he has conducted himself with dignity and poise. Char-Lez is very well qualified to be Chairman of the Libertarian Party of Florida. In fact, as far as managerial and LPF experience goes, he is, without doubt, the most qualified of those running.
That being said, there were some disappointing events that happened during his tenure. Most recently, when the LPF was threatened with a frivolous lawsuit, after sending out an email to the Executive Committee saying we would not be bullied, he simply capitulated in mediation. He has also not been able to effectively address antagonistic members of our leadership, most likely due to the unwillingness of the Executive Committee to act. While I have the utmost respect for Char-Lez Braden, for all the hard work and countless sacrifices he has made, not to mention his accomplishments as chair, I no longer have faith in his resolve, and unfortunately cannot support him in this capacity at this time. Even still, I find it disgusting the way he has been treated, and hope that if he does not win, that he stays active within the party. I also hope the people who have been allowed to mistreat him are not on the Executive Committee after the upcoming elections.
Marcos Miralles: Despite just turning 23 this year, Marcos has helped grow the Libertarian Party of Miami-Dade and served as their Vice Chair last year. When I asked him what he did for a living, he stated he was uncertain, but more-or-less said something along the line of sales for various entities, including two hotels. He has also made multiple appearances on Spanish-language television, promoting Libertarian ideas. I’m glad we have a salesman pushing Libertarian ideas to the Spanish-speaking community, and I hope he continues to do so regardless.
I have multiple reservations about Marcos. He has not (to my knowledge) been actively involved with the state party organization, yet he now seeks to lead the organization he has not been active in. His campaign manager (despite not being legally eligible to be a campaign manager) fraudulently ran a Presidential candidate in 2012. That same campaign manager has now been primarily responsible for advertising a new candidate: Marcos Miralles. Last year, despite my protests (to Marcos and others) at the time, the Libertarian Party of Miami-Dade held a town hall which got an embarrassing front-page article for the party, “Goat-blood-drinking candidate considers himself friend of white supremacists.” He then chose someone close to that failed candidate’s campaign to be his “running mate.” That “running mate” has since dropped out for unrelated reasons, and his new choice is, of course, an improvement. Still, there are key and active members of the state party who have quietly stated they will no longer be active should Marcos become Chair. While it would pain me to see them go, I honestly cannot blame them. Needless to say, despite my admiration for Marcos’ past work within his county party, I do not feel that he has the experience, leadership skills, judgment skills, nor the resolve, to be an effective Chair of the LPF at this time. That being said, I honestly hope he will become more involved in the state party in the future. Perhaps with more experience and once he actively participates in the state party governance, he will be better qualified to lead it.
Cody Parsons: Cody Parsons has stated that he may run, and he is admittedly a bit of an unknown to me. When I previously stated that I did not support either candidate for Chair (at the time), a supporter of his began a draft effort. Cody is a District Captain for the Convention of the States project. He’s the Co-Founder and Honorary Chairman of The Noble Order of Lexington, a private nationwide Libertarian fraternal order. He is a fellow veteran. He served in the Navy as a corpsman. That being said, being active in the Libertarian Party of Florida was difficult for him due to military service. I highly respect him, but unfortunately, not knowing more about him, I cannot currently recommend him. Though I wish him luck, and encourage others to get to know him as well so that perhaps they can recommend him.
Zachary Silva: Zachary Silva is also 23 years old. He is a former Regional Representative for the Libertarian Party of Florida, and was very active in the state party before a recent hiatus. During that time, he was a student activist, organizer, and fundraiser. He was a campus coordinator for Students for Liberty and received extensive training by both SFL and the Foundation for Economic Education. FEE even honored him as one of the 100 most influential rising stars with the FEE 100 alongside the likes of Wolf Von Laer, who has become the CEO of SFL. He has organized student groups and held fundraisers (even in Washington, DC). He is the Founder and Chair of Stoners for Liberty. He is acquainted with many pro-liberty legislators around the country. He ran for Chair of the LPF previously, before the current Chair appointed himself. He is ambitious and very smart. His leadership has huge potential to bring in countless young and energetic Libertarian student activists. His ability to fundraise and fresh approach will greatly benefit our current bottom line. Zachary knows what it means to be a Libertarian, and promotes the message of liberty well, with the experience to manage Libertarian organizations, without any of the baggage associated with the first two candidates.
Honestly, my biggest reservation about Zachary Silva is his age, though he has been a constant Libertarian activist since his youth – first joining the LPF EC at age 19. But I’m confident his youthful message and energy can be a strong positive, especially with people like Omar Recuero, Thomas Knapp and Rob Tolp supporting him. I cannot stress enough how much of an all-star team this would be. I will be supporting Zachary Silva in the chair election this weekend. I hope you will join me in taking this positive step forward into our party’s future.
As for my other endorsements, I think they largely speak for themselves. Omar Recuero, Thomas Knapp and Rob Tolp are all the best candidates running. Also of note is Alison Foxall (who is running for At-Large 1). She is one of the hardest workers in the party. I have no doubt Thomas Knapp will work just as hard, and I sincerely hope they both stay involved regardless.
My following endorsements are:
EDIT: I added information about Alison Foxall and included that Marcos Miralles is the former Vice Chair of LPMD since this note was first published.