Published on June 18, 2016 at the Binghamton Political Buzz, by Michael “Vass” Vasquez.
It was nearly a year ago that the New York State political map was thrown for a loop. A special election for the New York 52nd State Senate seat would be needed, as Tom Libous would lose his trial, and with it his decades old position. In the furor that ensued, Gov. Cuomo selected the Democrat candidate – Barbara Fiala. Republicans would sift through a host of candidates, picking what seemed at the time to be an unlikely choice in then-Undersheriff Fred Akshar. But the 2 parties would not be alone in striving to compete for the race. The Libertarian Party would also seek to enter a candidate, Rich Purtell.
Mr. Purtell and the Libertarian Party would miss the opportunity to join the ballot due to the shortened timeframe to gain petitions. This would leave just the Democrat and Republican to duke it out, with a landslide victory going to Fred Akshar. But with that victory came the understanding that a year later, State Senator Akshar would have to face challengers and secure another victory from voters to sustain his elected office. In 2016, the Libertarian Party is once again on the move, with more time for the same candidate.
We spoke with Rich Purtell [see video] in our studio in Binghamton, NY on June 17, 2016. This exclusive 30 minute conversation covered who is Rich Purtell – a Southern Tier lifelong resident who mechanical engineer. We also delved into his history in politics and why he is seeking the 52nd State Senate seat.
“I just felt like what the State really needs is someone with business experience. And that’s what I have, and why I felt I should try and get into the race last year. Similar attitude to why I am running this year too.”
The need to provide the public with a choice is not the only thing driving Mr. Purtell. Issues like property tax hikes, growth in medicaid and unfunded mandate costs, Common Core and fraud/corruption are top on his list of problems that need to be resolved. But less well publicized issues like health provider taxes are equally in his crosshairs.
“It’s like a money laundering scheme, where New York and other State charge the health care providers a tax… They [States] take that money and give it back to the health care provider and then get a 50% match on the federal funds, so it’s like a money laundering scheme. It’s a shame. It’s very corrupt.”
While Mr. Purtell might sound like a Republican as he discussed his displeasure with Obamacare (which he finds unsustainable) and efforts by Democrats to transition to a single-payer system, as well as his support of the 2nd Amendment in opposition of the NY SAFE Act, he departs from that Party with is adherence to the principle of choice. As Mr. Purtell states,
“That’s a Libertarian concept. Choice originates from individuals. If it’s some other process that’s not individual choice then you are starting drift away from Libertarian philosophy. When the choice is made by someone other than yourself, people are choosing for you, you’re loosing freedom you’re losing liberty.”
Of course no current interview could fail to include a discussion of the Orlando shooting and it’s impact on the 2nd Amendment. Mr. Purtell, a former Marine, believes that police and the military should be restrained from automatic weapons in the same manner as citizens have been since 1986. At the same time he believes in the permit-less conceal carry efforts found in many States across the nation. Specifically in reference to the renewed gun ban efforts after the Orlando shooting,
“Try to set the emotions aside and let’s look at the 10 States that have constitutional carry… the presence of firearms also helps to retard crimes like rape and theft and violent crimes and so on… The States with constitutional carry have low crime rates, they don’t have mass shootings… where do we see mass shootings? In gun free zones.”
From this hot button issue the exclusive discussion transitioned to the subject of heroin, which gained significant national attention in 2015. Like many Libertarians Mr. Purtell advocates for the legalization of usage of drugs. His view as he described, is to look at heroin addition as a health problem and enforce laws on those that sell and distribute drugs – with the noted exception of marijuana. Also, the big picture of legal drug abuse such as opioids must be addressed. Other options to address pain management is needed beyond prescription drugs, as Mr. Purtell stated in an expansion to his comments provided to us in September 2015.
The key for voters considering the Libertarian Party in the NY 52nd State Senate race, may well be summed up by these thoughts from Mr. Purtell to voters,
“I’m going to err on the side of giving people more choice. If the option is more government or more power to the people, I’m almost always going to…I want more power to the people. It’s pretty much universal on every issue.”
For voters interested, the petition period to allow the Libertarian Party, and Rich Purtell, onto the November ballot begins on July 12, 2016.
** Note – Binghamton Political Buzz does not advocate nor endorse any candidate or Party in any election. We believe that all candidates voices should be heard, and strive to allow voters the opportunity to hear those voices. We believe that providing information on candidates/elected officials and their platforms is a benefit for voters and their decisions. **