|Lorenzo Gaztanaga (right) with Shawn Quinn (left)|
A very big thank you to Lorenzo for participating in this interview.
DM: Thank you Mr. Gaztanaga for taking the time out of your busy schedule for this interview with your candidacy for Lt. Governor of Maryland. Let's start off with about your history with the Libertarian party, and what inspired you to run with Shawn Quinn this year?
LG: I’ve been with the Libertarian Party of Maryland since 1992 and run for various offices a number of times. I’ve known Shawn for four or five years, and had the opportunity to see him in action when he was running for state delegate in 2010. As a candidate, I chose the motto “It’s about people” early on. Shawn has embraced this approach in everything he does, from his website to his campaigning style. He inspired me to join his team and he keeps on inspiring me.
DM: As Lt. Governor, what is going to be your overall strategy for the state of Maryland? What key points do you want to focus on the most right away?
LG: Shawn Quinn and I have one overall approach: putting people first. By “people,” we mean individuals, families, local communities and local, home grown businesses. “Putting them first” means putting them ahead of our own convenience or that of politicians and government officials, ahead of special interests and the large corporations that past administrations have attempted to lure into Maryland with tax breaks and outright subsidies. Specifically, we have four key points, many of which will require collaboration with our state legislators.
1. First and foremost, we need to set term limits for all elected officials.
2. We will also work to reduce the current 6% state sales tax to 3%, with a view to eventually eliminating it altogether.
3. Overhaul the tax system.
4. Restore all of the freedoms enumerated in the Declaration of Independence and the Bill of Rights so that people can live their lives without government interference. No activity that does not harm others, whether smoking marijuana, carrying a weapon or engaging in a consensual relationship with another adult should be a crime in the eyes of the law.
DM: There is a rising concern on the local level of many cities within Maryland about unemployment, and homelessness is an issue. Locally in Hagerstown, MD, our homeless shelters are usually at max capacity, having to turn people away. What changes can we see on a state level that will help combat this problem on the local level, only possible through Quinn/Gaztanaga?
LG: Reducing the sales tax and eliminating the personal property tax on businesses will lead to more jobs. The homelessness problem is closely linked to the lack of affordable housing and affordable temporary shelter. We need to reexamine our zoning laws and the regulations governing such things as how many people can legally stay in a given space. Currently, you either have to live in what most of the world would consider a palace or you have no home at all. And I cannot emphasize the latter point enough. A lot of regulations and licensing that make homes unaffordable for low income people have nothing to do with the safety of the home, in terms of collapse or potential fire. A lot of it is politically driven by people who don't want certain other people in their neighborhood. In other words, "love your neighbor as yourself" takes a very long and distant walk, no matter what might be said in church on Sunday. Also, we must consider what sometimes, many years ago, was called a hobo. There are people who by inclination, mental condition, etc. like to wander, go about, etc. As long as they do not steal, kill, rape or trash or damage somebody else's property, the same thing applies. We need to love our neighbor as ourselves, and that might entail, sometimes, a personal loss, but it can return more peaceful living in communities. We're all human beings, and we need to treat each other that way.
DM: As was pointed out in my last interview with Shawn Quinn, there are over 40 state taxes in Maryland. What kind of changes would you like to personally see happen with them?
LG: Shawn already mentioned the highly unpopular “rain tax,” that is, the tax on nonabsorbent surface area intended to reduce the amount of polluted water running off into our natural waterways. Another tax that I think needs to go is the personal property tax, under which a business owner has to pay a tax every year on equipment and furniture purchased for the business. We also need to reduce registration and licensing fees and reporting fees.
DM: In Western Maryland, even across Maryland, there are many individuals who have criminal records because of recreational marijuana use. It is our understanding that you and Shawn are working towards solving this problem in Maryland. What is your personal strategy with legalization and helping the many citizens of Maryland clear their records, and regain the eligibility in the job market once again?
LG: I personally congratulated then Governor Ehrlich for signing the medical marijuana bill into law. However, as many states that voted to legalize the medical or even recreational use of marijuana have learned to their chagrin, the laws against the use of marijuana and other so-called “controlled substances” are still in force at the federal level and will need to be repealed by our representatives in the U.S. Congress. Our strategy, therefore, will be to exercise our powers as chief executive officers, setting priorities as to where our limited law enforcement resources should be directed. We can use the power of the executive pardon to assist individuals who are having difficulty finding jobs due to drug offenses on their records.
DM: As Lt. Governor, what other personal plans do you have to help improve Maryland, and putting the state back on track with long term development?
LG: There’s a lot of education or reeducation that needs to happen before we can truly have a government of, by and for the people here in Maryland. People don’t know what district they live in or who their representatives are at any level. They are also pretty hazy on what the true purpose or mission of a government is. I expect my government to maintain the necessary infrastructure (roads, bridges, tunnels, water supply and sewers), ensure public safety, provide emergency services (fire, police and ambulance) and adjudicate disputes. That’s a lot to do right there. I believe that our state will thrive economically and culturally when government limits itself to these functions and works hard to fulfill them completely. I also believe that it will take some work to sell this vision of government to most people.
Once again, It’s about people.
Libertarian candidate for Lt. Governor
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Photo courtesy of citizen4quinn.org.