After a long fight to get on the ballot this November, Brad Bielert is ready to take on Carol Ammons. The Champaign County Libertarian Party wholeheartedly endorse him for the position and stands ready to fight with him.
Brad was born and raised in Champaign and his family has lived here for 3 generations. As an auto mechanic, he has seen the difficulties facing the community: the lack of economic development, the over taxation, politicians treating people like serfs, and the abysmal social justice. He wants to change all that.
The fight to get on the ballot began with a petitioning. Marching door to door late into the evening to meet the signature requirement. It was no easy task after working long days under the hoods of cars, not to mention having to convince people to speak during a global pandemic.
Obtaining the required signatures, the victory was short lived, as opponents filed an objection to his signature counts. Objectors initially claimed there was a false address associated with one signature. When pressed on the fact that Brad obtained ~50% more signatures than the requirement, his adversaries changed tactics, attempting to argue that a pending case appealing a prior judicial reduction in signature granted to third parties in light of the pandemic invalidated the number.
On Friday August 21, the Illinois Board of Elections decided to reject the objection and ruled that Brad’s name be on the ballot this fall. He is the only opponent to Carol Ammons.
During an interview I asked him why he’s running.
“I want to see unity. People working together for the people. I don’t want to burden people with government control, but instill in them their right to individuality.”
Asked about his opponent he said:
“Unlike my opponent, I want to see legislation that represents all people. I want to give the people the freedom due to them while keeping them safe and out of harms way.”
He said that is why the four pillars of his campaign are:
Lower Property Taxes
Making Springfield Work Again
Brad makes a strong case for libertarianism, and the Champaign County Libertarian Party to endorse him.
Due to the coronavirus situation, online petitioning to obtain registered voters’ signatures to get on the ballot is legal in Illinois this year. The Libertarian Party of Illinois has a US House of Representatives candidate in all 18 congressional districts. By signing a candidate’s petition, you are not endorsing or supporting a candidate. You are only stating that you would like the candidate to appear on the November 2020 General Election ballot.
Depending on the congressional district, each US House candidate must obtain between 856 and 1,599 signatures of registered voters by July 20 to get on this November’s ballot, and every signature helps!
It’s easy and will give you another choice at the ballot box this November. Thank you so much!
The following letter was submitted May 5th, 2020 in response to Champaign City Council’s proposal (and ultimate passage of) to extend the Emergency Order originally passed March 13th, 2020 to again implore restraint in government authority.
My name is Russ Clark and I am the chair of the Champaign County Libertarian Party. Our members are concerned that another month has gone by without any changes to Ordinance 2020-022. I would hope council members are concerned as well. It is time yet again for the Mayor and unelected city officials to be granted the power to impose a curfew, ban the sale of liquor, wine, beer, gasoline, firearms, and ammunition, as well as cut off a citizen’s utilities, ban entry or exit from the city, take possession and title of a citizen’s personal property without compensation. The regular study session on April 28th was cancelled without discussion. This would have provided the perfect opportunity to craft and amend this ordinance to provide for the safe operation of the city during this public health emergency.
I ask yet again for the council tonight to vote down this ordinance extension and direct the city manager to write amendments striking the unconstitutional powers granted under it. It is not necessary for a municipal government to take powers not granted or authorized by either the Federal or State constitution. There is no impending destruction of the city nor have our medical facilities been overrun with COVID-19 cases. If the ordinance is not extended, the ordinance 2020-039 for overtime and other COVID-19 costs would need to be continued. An agenda amendment could be added to approve funding to pay overtime costs for police, fire, and city employees if necessary.
The city has encouraged people to wear masks but it has not proposed nor passed any resolutions pressing the State of Illinois to reopen the economy. Many citizens would happily wear a mask if it meant they could get a haircut, shop for clothing at Marketplace Mall, workout in a gym or play with their child at our playgrounds. Council has not requested for such a quid pro quo, at least publicly, but has deemed fit to seize unconstitutional powers to take from the people with only promises to never use it.
Leaving this ordinance unchanged will leave the door open for future councils and future mayors to overreach and take drastic unnecessary measures. I would encourage any new emergency ordinance to have clear delineations for authority and allow council to amend it prior to implementation. Routing bills through the city administration is perfectly acceptable for zoning amendments, not for the restriction of civil rights. Council should be allowed to amend emergency ordinances at the emergency meeting, not wait for a study session which could be cancelled out-of-hand.
I, on behalf of the Libertarian Party, ask that this council sees fit to vote down this ordinance and request amendments so that a LAWFUL emergency order can be passed at the next city council meeting.
Russ Clark Chair Champaign County Libertarian Party
The following letter was submitted April 7th, 2020 in response to Champaign City Council’s proposal (and ultimate passage of) to extend the Emergency Order originally passed March 13th, 2020.
My name is Russ Clark and am the chair of the Champaign County Libertarian Party. I am yet again shocked and dismayed that my city council is ruled by fear. Yet another motion for emergency orders that allows our mayor and unelected city officials to ban the sale of liquor, wine, beer, gasoline, firearms, ammunition, as well as cut off a citizen’s utilities, ban entry or exit from the city, take possession and title of a citizen’s personal property without compensation. This emergency ordinance needs amendment so city government only takes the actions necessary to deal with a public health crisis, not invasion by a foreign power marching down Neil Street. If there is no need or desire to use them, why take them at all? We all know the names of leaders who assume these kinds of powers under the guise of an emergency only to later use them when it suits their own ends. We call them many names that we all know.
So I implore the council tonight to vote down this ordinance and direct the city manager to write amendments striking the unconstitutional powers granted under it. The council appears to trust the Mayor. Many in her political party have publicly stated she would never take such rash actions. We cannot be assured that future councils can be worthy of trust nor future mayors would be so inclined to not use them. To leave this emergency order as is would invite lesser people to use their guile and political skill to gain these powers with a populace unable to halt them. The people would be forced to rely on County, State and Federal courts or force to rein them in. How much damage can be done to our community while we wait for a judge to dither, hear arguments and ruminate on a decision? If a mayor were to cut off natural gas supplies in winter to halt carbon dioxide emissions under a “climate emergency” declaration, quite a bit!
This ordinance has no delineation for the state of emergency nor does Council’s procedure allow Council to make amendments prior to adoption. They must be routed through city administration first. This is acceptable for zoning ordinances and personnel policies, not enacting police powers that trample individual freedoms guaranteed by Federal law.
I would hope that this council sees fit to vote down this order and request amendments so that a lawful emergency order can be passed at the next city council meeting.
Russ Clark Chair Champaign County Libertarian Party
Under emergency ordinance, Mayor
Feinen and unelected City Manager David more powerful than Governor Pritzker or
Champaign, IL — The Champaign
County Libertarian Party today denounced the unanimously passed emergency
ordinance as a backdoor power grab due to the COVID-19 virus. The ordinance does not stipulate timelines
nor causation for suspending property rights or elimination of commerce.
“This ordinance grants Mayor Feinen
and our unelected City Administrator Dorothy David, the power to seize property
and take title, prohibit the sale of firearms, gasoline, and alcohol, ban
meetings, cancel events, enforce a curfew, prohibit the movement of free people
in and out of the city and direct the shutoff of utilities and water. I would have assumed this city council would
defend an individual’s private property rights, even in times of
emergency. The ordinance does not
stipulate the emergency conditions this ordinance can be enacted under or even
stipulate that the actions of the Mayor must be relevant to the emergency at
Even under a Congressional declaration
of war, a government may commandeer or seize property but the property owner is
required to be compensated for such seizure under the 5th Amendment. The emergency ordinance passed today makes no
provision. Detention without reason is
rarely used outside of wartime as well. Most
court decisions on firearms and ammunition sales stipulate that it is firmly under
control of Federal and State laws, not municipal ordinances, and outright bans
on firearms or munition sales have been found unconstitutional. Many cities have enacted ‘Climate Emergency’
ordinances. Combined with this
ordinance, the Mayor’s office could ban the sale of gasoline and diesel and
shut off natural gas supplies to eliminate carbon dioxide emissions from the
“Outside of being invaded by a
foreign power, there is no reason for such an ordinance to be written, much
less enacted. People should be concerned
about the spread of COVID-19 but should not sacrifice their rights to a government
so keen to tell them what they can or cannot do. Our government should be
encouraging public spacing and personal hygiene, not creating pretexts to grow
the power of government. This ordinance
should be repealed at the next city council meeting.”
Russ Clark Chair Champaign County Libertarian Party
After deadlock on the Environment and Land Use Committee, zoning ordinances for marijuana-related businesses in unincorporated areas of Champaign County are going to the board for vote. Proponents laud the potential tax windfall from potential businesses, while opponents fear children will be tempted to use the drug.
Lets consider the
facts. Illinois legalized recreational marijuana earlier this year.
The Champaign Board voted to tax marijuana-related businesses.
Selling marijuana to minors will continue to be illegal. Even if
marijuana sale is disallowed in these communities, citizens will be
able to purchase marijuana elsewhere; Champaign and Urbana are only a
short drives away.
The Champaign County
Libertarian Party supports the right of people to choose for
themselves what to do with their bodies. We support businesses and
markets and the consensual exchange of goods. In light of evidence
against increase youth usage in case studies around the US, we see no
downside to allowing marijuana businesses. For these reasons, the
Champaign County Libertarian Party urges board members to vote in
support of pro-marijuana zoning ordinances.
Note: This new blog series will address, from a Libertarian perspective, policy issues facing Champaign County residents, and those of Illinois state more broadly. It will examine upcoming or recently passed laws, and inform you about how your elected officials voted on them.
Campaign season 2020 is underway in Champaign County: mailers are arriving by foot carried by the faithful letter carriers, political swag is beginning to fly off tables at local events, and yard signs will soon begin sprouting in lawns all around town. At least one such mailer detailing Rep. Carol Ammons’ agenda and key legislative record has already been making the rounds. I thought this would be a good chance to reflect on her representation and voting record over the 2019-2020 term to date.
Rep. Ammons has been an ally on two issues that Libertarians care about deeply; namely, criminal justice reform and legalization of recreational marijuana use (see Sec. 1.7 of the LP party platform here). I applaud her efforts to provide transparency of public complaints of policing (HB2503), work to improve independent legal review of the polygraph process (HB2569), support for lowering the burden of appearing in court for persons held in State confinement (SB1890), and creation of criminal ramifications for law enforcement officials guilty of fraud (HB2112, HB2111). She also co-sponsored the recently passed bill legalizing recreational marijuana use in Illinois (HB0902), which was a landmark achievement in US legalization efforts in that it provides provisions to free non-violent drug offenders.
That said, much of her voting record has been in opposition to the values of liberty, freedom to operate, personal choice, smaller government, and fiscal responsibility. As evidence, I will briefly review bills she has supported — and explicitly calls out in her flyer — as they represent examples of the worst type of government.
Rep. Ammons supported the “Prescription Drug Pricing Transparency Act” which places new regulations on the healthcare industry within the State of Illinois at a time when health insurance costs continue to rise at rates greatly outpacing income and GDP growth. HB 156 burdens insurance provides with reporting requirements related to prescription drug coverage. Additionally, the law requires drug manufactures to provide justifications for increases in drug prices. While on the one hand this legislation does not change the right of manufacturers and insurers to price costs of insurance, it is clearly meant to publicly shame companies for their business practices.
Enter HB 471, a bill that amends the “Illinois Insurance Code” which empowers the State to reject ACA health insurance premium rate increase. By nebulously defining “unreasonable rate increases” it essentially allows the state to impose price controls on health insurance plans. Many might think this is good policy considering the rapidly rising health insurance costs; however, this bill will likely decrease choice among an already sparsely populated market. Insurer participation in the health exchange marketplace has continually dropped since the passage of the ACA from a peak of 5 insurers on average in 2015 to 2.35 in 2019, and as things stand today 15% of Illinois enrollees only have a single insurer option . This is unsurprising considering the high costs of compliance. Price controls will only exacerbate the problem. As a case study, Land of Lincoln Health closed operations in 2016 after $7.1M in losses, despite $160M in government grants . Along with decreasing choices, enrollment in the exchange has been declining at a rate between 7% and 9% per year from 2016 to 2018 . I highly doubt adding price controls will solve these problems, and my prediction is that HB 471 will eventually require further Illinois subsidies to prop up failing marketplace plans.
In economic policy areas, Rep. Ammons voted for efforts that will weaken employment in Illinois, while raising overall State spending. She supported the “Lifting Up Illinois Working Family Act” (SB 1) that increases the minimum wage to $15/hour over 5 years, the bloated appropriates bill (SB 262) which adds between $574M and $1.3B to the state deficit , and an amendment to the Illinois tax code (SB 687) that raises corporate tax rates by a percentage point and creates a steep progressive income tax. While individuals and families making less than $100K per year will see similar or slightly reduced tax rates, higher earners will face steep taxes ranging from 7.75% to 7.99%. This is the second tax increase in four years, after the increase from 3.75% to 4.95% in 2017.
Ramifications of Illinois corporate and individual taxes have been felt for years. Corporations have been leaving Illinois for years  due to high costs of business as have individuals . In fact, Illinois has the second highest rate of emigration surpassed only by New Jersey, based on data from moving companies [7,8]. This trend will likely continue given the increased corporate and individual tax rate increases, resulting in worsening financial situation within the state.
To put a cherry on the cake, Rep. Ammons supported broad subsidies for R&D and apprenticeships via SB 1591 and SB 191. The former amends the Illinois tax code to extend R&D tax credits to 2027 of up to 6.5% for certain expenses and creates and Apprenticeship Tax Credit of $3500 per employee (up to $5M per company!). While innovation is important, rather than increasing tax rates followed by subsidies, why not just let businesses keep more of their money? The latter bill creates a “21st Century Employment” grant program for community colleges that requires the state to pay at least 60% of proposed training costs. While no specific dollar amount is allocated for the training program—which is itself irresponsible governance—we can estimate the deficit due to the apprenticeship tax credits of up to $48.7M (based on the 13,900 apprenticeships identified in a 2016 report ). Rather than require the State to sponsor apprenticeships, why not let the plethora of unions in Illinois pay for them? That is part of their raison d’etre after all.
Overall, these hallmark proposals
supported by Rep. Ammons are misguided. They include bad governance, increased
regulations and price controls, tax hikes, and payments to special interests. I
expect this will result in decreased competition, further flight of taxpaying
corporations and individuals alike, and a worsening condition in Illinois. I
give Rep. Ammons a D- for the
2019-2020 term so far.
A recent report from the Inspector General found that the Illinois Dept. of Children and Family Services (DCFS)
played a role in 102 children deaths in the past 3 years. 102 deaths
that don’t include Tanaja Barnes of Decatur, 2, in 2019. She froze to
death in her home as her mother’s boyfriend refused to pay for heat.
102 deaths don’t include AJ Freund of Crystal Lake, 5, who died being
beaten at the hands of his drug addicted parents. Those parents had
repeated contact with DCFS from Tanaja’s and AJ’s births.
JB promised to expand DCFS role in child upbringing during the campaign. He promised to increase the birth-to-three services of the during the campaign. This includes expanding home visits because it “increased school readiness, reduced child maltreatment and reduced lifetime arrests and convictions.” He also promised to create a mobile and online portal to provide information from the state so the state can reach all new parents. This will require ever increasing budgets for a state agency that consistently fails its mission today.
DCFS staffers face high workloads and, unfortunately for the children, it can result in the death of those in their care. The majority of DCFS workers are not evil, thrive on forcing drama, or incompetent. The ones that are cause dire consequences. The majority of children who come into contact with DCFS will not be taken from their parents. The ones that are face peril not only from our legal system but also those charged with their care. This agency is in drastic need of reform and formal policies that will guide a good working culture.
The agency contractors who were in contact Tanaja and AJ will not face criminal charges for their actions. In these cases, the contractors didn’t attempt to falsify reports. They did falsify reports in the case of Semaj Crosby in 2017. This contract employee, to date, has not been charged with any crime. This is wrong. If a prisoner dies in custody and a police officer falsifies the report, that officer is accountable of any number of offenses at the very least, filing a false report. The DCFS worker who falsifies a report and a child dies, faces being fired but no jail time. Given that current employment law prohibits employers from given information as to why a former employee is released, this seems like a small consequence for doing such an important job so poorly. The contractor will likely not face any financial harm at all for a 17 month old baby that is crushed under the living room couch.
This agency needs reform, not more contact with more parents who will fear their children being taken away. The agency needs to be accountable to those it assumes the care of, not a union that protects those who cannot be trusted to tell the truth. The agency needs a stable director, not a political flunky who is unwilling to make tough choices fighting that union or worse, do their bidding. If the agency is unwilling to do so, it should be dissolved and its charge handed back to law enforcement with full capacity. 102 lives and no agency employees being held to account. One can only imagine the cost for expanding DCFS’ reach into every Illinois family.
On April 23, the Village of Mahomet annexed three
subdivisions against the wishes of a vocal contingent of homeowners in those
subdivisions. The Briarcliff and Summit
Ridge subdivisions were developed outside the existing limits of the village explicitly
for a country feel and lower taxes. Many
of those residents attended study sessions explaining to elected Mahomet
trustees that they purchased their home, in part, because it was not in the
Village. Village officials have been
concerned with increasing revenues and increasing the Village’s population
count for the upcoming 2020 Census.
A Federal Census should NEVER be a reason to annex property
into a city or village. Nor should property
owners be forcibly annexed into a city or village. These homeowners are now facing increased
property taxes and fees that they didn’t want.
These homeowners are now forced to purchase services from a provider
they didn’t choose. These homeowners are now taxed without elected
representation as the homeowners couldn’t vote in the 2019 Village of Mahomet
election. These communities would have
been better served to be annexed after a referendum vote on annexation. We doubt this would have passed given the
large number of negative comments given in public meetings.
This is taxation without representation. We believe the annexation statutes should be
changed to require subdivision annexations to go to a direct vote of the
proposed annexation residents. These
residents should be allowed to have their say at the ballot box, not railroaded
in a village hearing or ask for relief in a court of law. The statutes should also be changed to
require cities and villages to annex properties PRIOR to a municipal election
so newly annexed residents can elect their officials, not have them foisted