The Libertarian Party of Jackson County has reorganized.
Officials with the party filed paperwork in the Jackson County Clerk’s Office last summer and will conduct a convention at 4 p.m. Saturday at San Marcos Mexican Restaurant, 501 N. Ewing St., Seymour.
It’s the first convention the party has conducted since April 2001.
During the convention, the party will select candidates for office, host a question-and-answer session with candidates and discuss issues and bylaws of the party.
Mark Rutherford, the Libertarian candidate for Indiana secretary of state, will address the convention. Three Republican candidates for Jackson County sheriff also will speak.
Any candidate for office from any party can speak at the convention, but the party will not endorse or support a candidate unless they’re a member of the Libertarian Party, said Erin Meadors, party chairwoman.
“We’re happy to talk and happy to help when we believe in things they’re pushing, but no official endorsements,” Meadors said.
The party already has nearly 100 committed members, and several participate in monthly meetings at local homes or restaurants.
All parties that are considered third parties must select candidates during a county convention, unlike Democratic and Republican parties that select candidates during primary elections.
“We do all of that in our own party,” Meadors said.
Candidates interested in running for office under the Libertarian Party during the 2018 election cycle will be selected during Saturday’s convention, she said.
Meadors said she has spoken with potential candidates for Jackson County Council, Jackson Township Board and Indiana House District 69.
The strategy for the party in Jackson County is to be able to talk with voters about their concerns at local, state and federal levels.
“I know a lot of people don’t feel they’re represented by the Republican and Democratic platforms,” Meadors said. “There is a large gap in the middle that feel disenfranchised, so we want to talk to them about liberty-minded solutions that aren’t going to cost them in tax dollars and will build our community better as a whole because every voice is heard.”
The party also plans to walk door to door for candidates and is planning participation in the county’s parades.
Meadors and vice chairman Steven Buffington of Seymour regularly have been attending Seymour City Council meetings and are looking to start attending county council meetings.
“We need to know what is going on at the local level,” Meadors said.
Recently, the group spoke in opposition to a proposal from Smoke Free Seymour to ban smoking in the city in all public places.
“I don’t believe our government should be telling anyone how to run their business unless they’re hurting or stealing from someone,” Meadors said. “I was more than happy to help with that.”
The party’s platform is focused primarily on freedom and smaller government.
“We believe in the smallest form of government we can imagine,” Meadors said. “We don’t necessarily believe in no government. We believe in rules, just not the rulers.”
The party coordinates efforts between Jackson, Bartholomew, Jennings, Scott and Washington counties.
Although the party may be newly reorganized in Jackson County, residents have voted for Libertarian candidates for state and federal offices in several election cycles.
Libertarians represented 2.94 percent of the 2,656 straight ticket ballots in the 2014 general election in Jackson County.
More people selected a Libertarian straight ticket ballot in the 2016 general election, but the percentage ticked down to 2.55 percent of the 6,321 straight ticket votes.
Former New Mexico Gov. Gary Johnson, the Libertarian Party’s 2016 presidential candidate, received 4.71 percent or 832 votes against President Donald Trump and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.
Meadors said the party is re-energized and looks forward to discussing issues with voters and the public.
“We hope for the opportunity for growth and opportunity for more discussions with the public because their voices need heard,” she said.
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What: Jackson County Libertarian Party convention
When: 4 p.m. Saturday
Where: San Marcos Mexican Restaurant, 501 N. Ewing St., Seymour