Posted on LP.org on September 5, 2013:
William H. Russell,
Libertarian for Mayor
Veteran Libertarian William H. Russell believes the city of Norwich, Conn., has hit bottom — and only Libertarians can salvage it. Russell plans to run a full slate of Libertarian Party candidates in the Nov. 5 local elections for the first time in local history.
Russell has already qualified for the mayoral ballot. He is now in the process of assembling six candidates for city council, one for treasurer, and six more for the board of education.
Three candidates — Michael Holman, Kyle D. Gray and Ashley Pryski — have already signed up for the City Council race, Russell said. Given voter disgust with the current officeholders, he is optimistic about recruiting the remaining 10.
“We have people leaving in droves,” Russell said. “The employment situation is terrible. The only jobs you can find are minimum wage jobs, and you can’t live in Norwich on that amount of money.”
A crushing tax burden, in his view, is depressing the amount of investment and other business activities occurring in Norwich, making the city an unattractive place to live.
“My own property taxes went up 100 percent over the past seven years,” Russell said. “People are fed up. They are selling and moving to other places.”
Successive Republican and Democratic city administrations have grown government, and Russell believes the time is ripe for Libertarians to take the reins of power in Norwich and turn it around.
To qualify for the ballot, Norwich law requires petitions with 30 verifiable signatures for candidates for treasurer and the board of education — and 38–48 for those running for city council. Russell plans to complete this paperwork well ahead of the Aug. 7 deadline.
If elected, Russell promises to “apply a meat cleaver” to the budget and city bureaucracy, demonstrating to Norwich residents that the Libertarian solution of small government is the key to economic growth and prosperity.
Russell’s agenda includes:
- Cutting down the city budget, currently projected to reach $206 million, to 25 percent of its size.
- Reducing property taxes by 50 percent in the first year and another 50 percent in the second.
- Eliminating the Norwich Community Development Corporation, which, in Russell’s words, has done “a lousy job attracting business to the city.”
- Eliminating the job of city manager and other layers of unnecessary bureaucracy.
Russell said that he would like to launch the process of privatization in the school district, but acknowledged that implementing such a plan would require similar pro-market reforms at the Connecticut state level.
To bring about real change, Russell would need cooperation from throughout the city government, so Russell is urging voters to elect the entire “Team Russell,” without leaving any holdovers from previous administrations.
“Once we take Norwich, people will see what can be done, and we’ll be able to expand our agenda to a different level,” Russell said. “Libertarians need to start making a name for themselves locally.”
Russell thinks voters may be primed to look outside the traditional Democrat-Republican matrix and reach out to Libertarians for answers because of an encouraging showing by independent candidates in a recent election. In the 2009 Norwich mayoral race, an independent candidate came in a very strong second, with 32 percent of the vote, ahead of the Democratic candidate’s 17 percent, and within striking distance of the Republican winner’s 47 percent.
These results, according to Mr. Russell, indicate that Norwich is ready for a political alternative to shrink government, allow the private sector to grow, and restore the free market.
“We need real change in Norwich,” he points out. “And with my Libertarian team, it is coming.”