Today I received an unexpected envelope in snail mail “From the desk of Councilman Fred Collins.” Collins is a city councilman in Berkley, Michigan. I’m in Iowa City, Iowa, so why is he writing me? Then I remembered who Fred Collins is.
Fred Collins took some time off from his duties as city councilman to run Michael Badnarik’s 2004 presidential campaign. I wonder what he has to say?
So I opened the envelope.
Dear Friend in Liberty,
I am writing to you today as a two-term, Libertarian, elected official. For the last eight years, I have served as city councilman in Berkley, Michigan. Berkley is a small, middleclass, suburban community just north of Detroit. In most ways we’re pretty typical of such cities anywhere in the United States.
In fact, Berkley, Michigan is a perfect crucible for refining libertarianism into a working theory for practical governance.
Huh? Did I hear that right? A Libertarian in office, and re-elected even? How did he manage that? As it turns out, it was pretty simple. He simply took libertarian ideals and applied them to the real world. Consider:
[A]rmed with nothing more than a red pen in one hand and a pocket calculator in the other, I have reduced city expenditures by an average of 5% per year (adjusted for inflation) over my term of office.
He also helped kill a $23,000 state “beautification grant’ that would have cost the city $7,000 up front and $3,000 per year in maintenance costs. Some grant.
The surprising thing to me is that most of the time there really isn’t much of a political fight. Our ideas are so commonsensical that all you have to do is say aloud what most people are already thinking.
So, again, why the letter? He’s running for mayor of Berkley, Michigan in 2006.
Our current mayor is retiring, so the seat will be open. He has endorsed me for the office. And I am an incumbent councilman myself. . . .
As campaign manager for Michael Badnarik last year I was, of course, on the road a great deal. I only actually missed a couple of council meetings. But I’ve heard rumors that my opponent may try to convince the voters that I put the needs of the LP ahead of the needs of my city. I have an answer for that, too. But it’s going to take some substantial resources to make sure that the voters hear it. . .
This is going to be a tough race. My opposition will pull out all the stops to discredit me. If we are to be successful, we must have the resources to counter their attacks with the truth. The simple, undeniable facts about the effectiveness and efficiency of the libertarian approach to government. The cost savings. The regulation reduction. The genuine benefits of the philosophy of freedom.
Tim West also got this letter, and had this to say.
It’s by efforts like this that the public perception of libertarianism itself can be changed, and our candidates that follow this prescription of common sense campaigning without resorting to scare tactics and namecalling will be rewarded by more respect from the media and voters alike. Hats off to Fred. This is the future of this party, if we want to become successful.
To find out exactly what he’s talking about, see Remaking the Libertarian Party.
Those are excellent reasons to support Collins for mayor. The more freedom-oriented people we have representing America in office, the better for all of us. I’ll be sending in a donation to his campaign shortly, and if you want to contribute, you can call +1 (248) 399-2631, write to 2916 Wakefield, Berkley, MI 48072, or donate online. The maximum you can donate under Michigan law is $500.