Purtell wages Libertarian campaign to take former Libous Senate seat

Late last month, former Senator Tom Libous was forced to resign his Binghamton area  seat suddenly due to being found guilty of corruption charges.  He was the second ranking Republican in the chamber and was considered the defacto leader of the upstate caucus.

The timing of his resignation is such that the Democrat and Republican parties needed to only name their candidate for the race, with the general election to be held in November.  There will be no primary process.

The Libertarian Party of New York has endorsed Rich Purtell, an engineer with expertise in energy and climate sciences, as their candidate earlier this month. With a platform rooted in both social and economic freedom, Mr. Purtell was kind enough to discuss his views with The Chronicle.  Mr. Purtell resides in Apalachin and works in Endwell.

Here are some of his thoughts on the issues:

Gay Marriage

Government needs to legalize this process, but legalization does not mean endorsement.  Furthermore, the first amendment “freedom of association” concept should allow for voluntary, two party arrangements.  So for example if a gay couple wishes to have a cake baked at a bakery which does not support the same sex marriage concept, the baker should have the right to refuse service.  To violate such rights for bakers, sign shops, florists, etc. I call “forced proxy free speech.”  The rights of all parties, producers and consumers, need to be equally upheld as best as possible.  Producers who seem to be acting in a bigoted manner are best handled via boycotts, protests, and other free market concepts, not through force of law.

War on Drugs

This 40 year effort mirrors the success, or I should say lack thereof, of what we found with alcohol prohibition.  The role of government is to serve justice and to protect the exercising of rights by people from infringing upon other people.  Any ban of drugs, large soda fountain drinks, cigarettes, etc. is anti-liberty. The economic cost of the war on drugs has been enormous.  The USA has 5% of the world’s population yet 25% of the world’s prison population.  We break apart families by jailing a parent for years over a non-violent crime.  Police brutality has become a greater problem because too many laws makes everyone into a criminal.  Ex-cons are labeled and can’t find good jobs after they have served their time, and they are barred from voting for life.


The US Supreme Court has ruled vaccines to be “unavoidably unsafe.”  The VAERS (vaccine adverse event reporting system) is a voluntary, passive monitoring program in which doctors are NOT mandated to monitor for and report injuries.  VAERS is the best real time, real world damage assessment program but it has many such structural flaws.  If VAERS were used as a quality control program in an industrial setting, it would get a deserved failing grade for poor accuracy and accountability.  Yet in spite of not having any discussion about improving the accuracy of VAERS, including perhaps mandates with penalties for doctors to report to this important database, we are instead seeing states jump forward with anti-liberty approaches to make all parents vaccinate their children, that is unless the parents don’t want to send their kids to public school (more on schools later).  Vaccine mandates are very much anti-liberty, especially broad mandates (65 doses now on the CDC schedule, several diseases which are non-communicable) when other ideas have not been exhausted.

Gun Control 

Were it not for the war on drugs gun violence would be a virtual non issue.  This is a state office I am pursuing and states should have the LEAST involvement in gun control.  Why?  Federal gun type limiting laws can be passed at a manufacturing level, making things fair across the board across the USA.  I was in the Marine Reserves from 1981-1985 and the M16A1 0.223 caliber rifle could fire at 600 rounds per minute, 10 shots per second, and the military has since pulled back on the concept of such light weight, rapid fire, hand held weapons.  Not functionally accurate to aim.  The assault weapons ban made an attempt at doing something about this but it was set up incorrectly. Perhaps a firing rate limit at the federal level would make some sense, as such effort would be universal, and would slow down criminals as much as law abiding citizens.  Most other gun control efforts do far more damage to the rights of law abiding citizens than to criminals, thus are not sensible.  For open carry and conceal carry permits, I think towns and counties should decide at a more local level, since these permits concern the carrying of the gun while on property, not outright ownership.  Similarly any business or residence should be able to say yes or no to conceal carry or open carry on their property.


The K-12 public schools in New York cost over $18,000 per student per year to operate, 80% higher than the national average.  Parents who home school or private school are paying twice because they must still pay taxes to support public schools, plus pay again for home schooling or private schooling.  Home schooling parents or private school parents should get a tax break, particularly home schooling parents.  From personal experience I know parents and kids who are involved in home schooling and the kids grow up to be well adapted academic performers.  Some see this as an assault on public education.  I see this as an issue of fairness, offering options, and saving taxpayer dollars.  From my 25 years in the construction industry I can offer up many stories of where school construction costs have been hyper-inflated due to poor competitive buying habits.  “Separate pocket syndrome” is a big part of this.  A local school district which is getting a new school erected using mostly state funding, is likely to over-spend.


This along with K-12 school operation comprises nearly ½ of the New York state budget.  When New York State rolled out a more extensive Medicaid effort in 2001, much of the funding rolled down to county levels through unfunded mandates.  Like the “separate pocket syndrome” problem of money coming from the top down, mandates without money coming from the top are equally damaging to proper fiscal restraint.  The New York Association of Counties, NYSAC, has made efforts to get more cost burden back to the state. This valiant effort slowed down property tax increases.  As a libertarian and someone who volunteered for 12 years on two Broome County United Way funding allocation panels, I would work to see continued movement towards more private sector and charitable support for those in need vs. government entitlement programs such as Medicaid.

The State Lotto

Some libertarians support the government lottery concept because this is a voluntary tax.  While this is certainly true, the economic truth of this type of process is that our state government has monopoly power over gambling.  Gambling is an entertainment business.  The state should not be in the entertainment business.  The lotteries should be ended and gambling completely legalized and unregulated.  Aside from these problems the lottery program is only 50% efficient.  Of the $10 billion dollars per year of revenue, about 40% goes back to winners which is good.  But it’s about an equal 30%/30% split between advertising/operating costs and net revenue injection to help support education.  Thus I call it 50% efficient, not very good as a tax collection efficiency.


Programs such as “Start-up NY” are crony and pick certain businesses to be winner, de-facto picking other companies to be losers.  These schemes are anti-free market efforts to economic development.

Occupational Licensing

The rhetoric is that we need these many state programs to “protect the consumer”.  Nonsense.  These programs are about taxes and fees, protectionism, and cronyism. Prices get driven up due to scarcity and monopoly conditions.  Consumers get frustrated and go to unlicensed, and more importantly uninsured, providers and as a result more risk comes from this practice.  NO occupational licensing is necessary, not even for the doctors, lawyers, engineers, etc.  Performance evaluation by insurance underwriters and word-of-mouth consumer oriented concepts such as Angie’s lists do more to ensure quality services while ensuring good competition.

Sales Tax 

The sales tax methods in New York create mini trade-wars between different counties and towns.  Retail shopping districts tend to be overdeveloped due to the tax methodology used.  County to town revenue sharing is generally population based, such strategy makes more sense at state to county level also.

Energy and Utilities 

Utility deregulation has helped bring down energy costs in New York. But I notice in my bills that the costs for distribution is sometimes as much as the raw energy.  We should allow for small producer/consumer coops which are TOTALLY unregulated.  Off grid, private party contractual relationships and metering.  Some of the CHP (combined heat and power) technologies are 90%+ efficient in total energy in to total energy out.  Conversely combined cycle gas turbine/steam turbine power plants are at best 60% fuel-to-wire efficient, with losses in long distance transport of power as well.  We need to allow more free market options, as the electrical grid is still highly monopolistic in nature.

You can contact Mr. Purtell at rpurtell2@stny.rr.com about how you can help. New York State Senate District 52 contains all of Broome and Tioga counties and parts of Delaware and Chenango counties. 

Be the first to comment

Leave a Reply