We had the distinct pleasure of interviewing Libertarian candidate Gary St. Fleur, a candidate running to become the next Mayor of Scranton, PA.
MV4F: On your website, you describe your time growing up in Brooklyn, New York as a harsh environment. How did you come to the libertarian philosophy in an area that is well known for its largess of government?
GARY:: Well, it is actually quite easy to come to libertarian philosophy living in NYC where you see firsthand the complete an utter failure of government largess. 1.7 million live in poverty in NYC. The public school system is a complete failure, infrastructure is deteriorating, homelessness is rampant and every conceivable government program has done nothing except perpetuate generational poverty. Nevertheless, the local NYC government manages to spend $80 billion dollars a year to manifest this lackluster performance while under funding their own public pension. NYC gives little reason to have any faith in government programs.
MV4F: Your first platform plank mentions that the people of Scranton need a transition to truth of the situation your city faces. How are you spreading this truth to people and how is your message being received?
GARY: : I run the blog Save Scranton which has written over 300 articles regarding the corruption and excessive taxation in Scranton. In addition, we have a pending lawsuit against the city regarding its excessive taxation. My work has been featured in countless local press as well as national press.
MV4F: In your second platform portion, you talk about transparency. In the light of transparency, you mention that a raise in taxation should be justified. As a Libertarian, why would you mention any sort of tax increase at all?
GARY: As a libertarian, I am not an anarchist and can conceive of instances where taxation can prove necessary. Nevertheless, as a libertarian I believe that the sort of taxation that pervades this country is unconscionable and unjustifiably high. My argument regarding transparency is based on the idea that tax payers would be willing to resist tax increases if they became aware to what extent tax money is wasted.
MV4F: In your third and final platform portion, you mention the transition of Scranton. You mentioned the highway intersection being a good commercial location and wanting to attract businesses. As Mayor, how to you propose accomplishing this?
GARY: The position of mayor need not be relegated to administrative roles alone. As the city’s chief executive, I would use my influence to market the city to businesses and promote conditions that are favorable to enterprise. The Mercatus center did a report regarding Scranton and claimed that the economic slump affecting the city is due to unfriendly business conditions, high taxes and regulation. As mayor, I would repeal as much regulation as feasibly position and slash taxes. Governments should operate as any other enterprise and should provide more value to its citizens than it takes in. This is why I conceive of a lean government that operates in many ways like a start up in that it seeks to use innovation to provide value instead of mindless and ineffectual tax increases.
MV4F: The only issue you have mentioned in your issue section on your website talks about property taxes. From the sounds of things in Scranton, there is a lot more going on that just the property tax situation. Why did you only include this one issue?
GARY: My issue section is not complete. I will populate the section with all the prevailing issues affecting Scranton. As my extensive writing in Save Scranton indicates, I am fully aware of the extent of the many issues regarding Scranton and have written about them.
MV4F: Following up on the property tax issue, how do you account for the county assessor in this equation? If he determines the property value is higher, doesn’t the price for the property owner still go up? How do you address this as a City Mayor when the Assessor is a County position?
GARY: My position is that taxes are often unnecessary and obstructive. With that in mind, All taxes under the control of the Scranton government will be lowered or completely phased out. If the county seeks to raise taxes at their level, I will in turn lower taxes on the city level even if it means decreasing certain civil services. If the county wants to raise taxes, let them provide the service.
MV4F: The language on your website sounds almost like the same as the language coming from Republican candidate Jim Mulligan. How would you say you differ than he? What makes you the candidate Scranton should vote for?
GARY: Jim Mulligan says the typical political platforms but does not provide any clear plan for doing anything he says. I am campaigning on a platform of bankruptcy. I fully intend to file of bankruptcy once I become mayor. Mr. Mulligan is either being dishonest or financially illiterate when he talks about lower taxes for a city that has mounting budget deficits. The only way to lower taxes in Scranton is to decrease the size of the Scranton government and lower the cost to operate the Scranton government. How can this be accomplished with union contracts? Furthermore, the interest on the debt Scranton has accumulated is completely absorb the government’s cash. How does he intend to lower taxes without bankrupting the government? This is my very point. There is no other opportunity for Scranton besides bankruptcy. The other candidates are too spineless to be upfront about this because they are afraid of upsetting the government unions. I am fully prepared to face the local government unions and declare boldly that bankruptcy is the only option – this is not negotiable!
MV4F: How do you respond to the fact that your name is not on the candidate list posted by the Lackawanna Department of Elections?
GARY: Candidates running as a third party will be listed after August 1st which is the deadline for third party candidates.
MV4F: In the coming months, what specific activities are you doing to get out the message you advocate?
GARY: I will be hosting weekly rallies, engages the students at the local universities, going on the media circuit and conducting general campaigning activities. The corruption in Scranton is notorious and well known by local voters. They have never had an opportunity in recent memory to vote for a candidate that was anti-corruption, anti-status-quo and anti- ol’ boys network. This is the opportunity for the people of Scranton to confront city hall that they have been waiting for.
MV4F: Last one entirely yours: What message would you like to leave individuals reading this?
GARY: The people of Scranton know that their local government is corrupt and predatory but feel helpless to do anything. The reason being that the ol boys network in the city makes sure to intimidates all who attempt to challenge their power. The candidates who run for office in Scranton are all affiliated and part of the status quo. That is until now! My candidacy marks a major opportunity of Scranton to finally to away with the ol boys network and establish true liberty for this city! I invite all those who are reading this to get involved. We have an opportunity to prove that libertarian platform is superior, producing the greatest conditions for prosperity and freedom for everyone
If you would like to know more about Gary St. Fleur and his efforts running for office, you can follow along: