HARRISBURG, PA, [April 2, 2017] – Following a year of growth and ballot successes, advocates of liberty from around the Commonwealth gathered in Harrisburg for a weekend of speakers and professional development. During their yearly convention held April 2nd at the Harrisburg Hilton, the members of the Libertarian Party of Pennsylvania selected a diverse and enthusiastic leadership team going into the 2017 election season.
Drew Bingaman of Northumberland County was elected Chairman. Bingaman has served as the Chairman of the Susquehanna Valley Libertarian Party since 2013 and represented Pennsylvania as a delegate to the 2016 Libertarian Party National Convention.
“In order to capitalize on the momentum of the 2016 presidential race the LPPA needs to run candidates that offer a real alternative to the status quo” Bingaman said. “It is clear that Pennsylvania voters want change, and the LP offers a principled alternative that will have a positive effect on their lives.”
Jessica Santiago of Alleghany County, William Sloan of Cumberland County, and Chris Bastone of Philadelphia were elected to the Western, Central, and Eastern Vice-Chairmanships respectively; Joseph Soloski of Centre County was elected Treasurer and Steven Brenize of Cumberland County was unanimously elected Secretary.
“Our people are energized and motivated. The great dissatisfaction with the established parties also gives us a great opportunity to reach new young voters and independents who make up a large percentage of the voter base” Chris Bastone, an Air Force veteran and finance professional, offered.
Jessica Santiago, a Regional Manager for a large non-profit and self-described “PTA mom”, said “People are looking for new political homes. People are feeling divided, uncertain, and some are having serious buyer's remorse. We can capitalize on this opportunity by reaching people from a place of reason, logic, and possibility. I believe we can do this at every level from the ground up.”
Newly elected treasurer, and a CPA with over 30 years’ experience, Joe Soloski is looking forward to solidifying the LPPA’s financial footing. Soloski “would like to see the LPPA positioned to assist viable Libertarian candidates get elected to various offices. Financial strength and liquidity will allow us to do just that,” he continued “our personal liberty principles resonate with people in all walks of life. This is our best moment yet to continue to attract people to our Party of reason and common sense.”
The new leadership team will be hitting the ground running with support and assistance from outside the Commonwealth. During the Pennsylvania Leaders Forum, a professional development conference hosted by Pennsylvanians for Liberty the day before the convention, members of the party heard from potential nominees for 2018 state-wide races. Also speaking was the Vice-Chairman of the Libertarian National Committee, Arvin Vorha.
“The enthusiasm is off the charts” Vorha said. “People who want freedom are coming to us. And we are seeing that happening now not just at the national scene, but the state level. We are seeing all these people who are saying ‘I have been a republican or democrat my whole life, but they aren’t giving me what I want’ which is more freedom.”
Headlining the Pennsylvania Leaders Forum was Larry Sharpe, a 2016 candidate for the Libertarian Party Vice-Presidential nomination. Sharpe, a Marine Corp veteran, entrepreneur, and business consultant is touring the country to support party unity and growth.
“Once the election was over last year, we did well but a lot of people wanted more. So there was still a level of disappointment even though we had a good year,” Sharpe explained “I thought the answer was for me to run around the country... I am trying my best to keep that message going because too many people have decided that once 2016 was over, the next answer was 2020. And its not. It 2017, ‘18, ’19, then ’20. If we want a shot at victory in 2020, we have to build our momentum, our infrastructure in ’17, ’18, ’19. I am going to try my best to do that.”
The Pennsylvania Leaders Forum was organized by Marc Bozzacco of Montgomery County and Steven Brenize. The pair were soundly cheered during the convention for their successful event; Brenize was elected secretary in the lone unanimous vote of the day.
Brenize, a former member of the Shippensburg Borough Council and an infectious optimist, is ready to take the LPPA one step further but recognizes the challenges that lie ahead. “We will hit the ground running but we have to be real, we are the trying to climb Mt Everest” Brenize said, “what we did today was book the plane ticket to Nepal... but people do reach the summit every year.”