Burd, Quiggle: 1st Libertarian ‘team’ in race in North’d Co.

Two vie for commissioner
Published: 10/25/2015 9:36 AM
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Two vie for commissioner
BY JAKE BETZ THE NEWS-ITEM jake_ b@newsitem.com

Win or lose, John Burd and Ed Quiggle Jr. are making Northumberland County political history. They are the standard bearers for the first ever Libertarian Party county “ticket.” Anyone who is fed up with Republicans and Democrats can vote a straight Libertarian ticket to make Burd and Quiggle the majority commissioners.

That’s part of what motivates them — the opportunity to offer an alternative to the political status quo. But, apart from that, the Libertarian candidates are serious in their mission, which they define as providing a common-sense administration that adheres to constitutional principles, keeps taxes as low as possible and “stays out of people’s lives.”

Both have prior electoral experience, although Burd’s was at a higher level. Burd, who lives in Coal Township, was the Libertarian, and unsuccessful, alternative to incumbent Republican state Rep. Kurt Masser in 2014. Quiggle was elected in 2011 to a six-year term as constable in Sunbury’s Ninth Ward, and he was also an unsuccessful Independent candidate for Sunbury City Council in 2013.

They are proud to be running what is nothing more than a grass-roots campaign. Burd and Quiggle won’t have to file formal pre-election campaign finance reports because they will each spend less than $250. In fact, “well under $250,” Burd said. Instead of paying for professionally produced full-color mailers, the two are relying on the Internet, coverage by news media in the county and word of mouth to help themdisseminate their message. When he appears at public debates or joint campaign appearances, Burd encourages the audience to go to VoteBurd.com to learn more about him.

Burd and Quiggle are realists and, as such, they understand they are underdogs in the commissioners race. They said they are running to win, however, even if they are not interested in conducting more elaborate, and expensive, campaigns. But win or lose, “we are trying to tell the public the truth, even if it is unpopular,” Burd remarked. They believe the selling of influence is one of the country’s major problems, and they caution that lobbyist and corporate contributions to candidates come with a price.

If they are elected, Burd and Quiggle promise to “bring decorum back” to county government their first day in office.

Burd said they would also bring “sensibility” to the table. As an example where this has been lacking, he said the current board should have done a thorough analysis on whether the old county prison, which was destroyed by fire in January, could have been utilized before plans were advanced for constructing a new facility. Quiggle said the entire prison system should be reformed and, to that end, his preference would be to salvage the undamaged prison wing and use it immediately to incarcerate violent offenders and then expand alternatives to incarceration. Burd added, however, that it is “probably already too late to salvage the old prison.” He believes there was an “agenda” even prior to the fire to have the county build a new jail.

Quiggle and Burd both maintain that “the drug war is not working.”

“Portugal has shown that it is better to offer counseling to drug offenders than to lock them up,” Burd remarked. The focus should be on rehabilitation, he added.

Burd and Quiggle favor decriminalization of marijuana, with Quiggle noting that law enforcement officials need to concentrate on going after violent criminals rather than prosecuting people who are smoking marijuana. They do agree that impairment from marijuana while operating a motor vehicle is unacceptable, and law enforcement is correct in such cases to prosecute people for driving under the influence. Burd and Quiggle said they do not use marijuana.

As Libertarians, Burd and Quiggle have a natural aversion to onerous taxes. The cost of government should be as low as possible, they said.

“Although the current commissioners have made significant cuts, I believe we can still make government more efficient,” Quiggle said. Cutting commissioners’ expenses, reducing waste and implementing more alternatives to incarceration will put Northumberland County in a position where property and per capita taxes can be lowered.

They realize these structural reforms will not be easy. “Government is fat and happy because it taxes everything,” Burd said. “It will take a lot to fix things to get everything back the way the Founders intended.”

Burd and Quiggle further understand that ways must be found to fund vital government services, but they believe the ideal solution is to rely, whenever possible, on fees for services. As examples, they cited the gas consumption tax and mainly self-supporting agencies such as the Pennsylvania Boat and Pennsylvania Game commissions as being closely compatible with Libertarian principles.

“But we have to work with what we have right now, doing whatever we can to cut spending without interfering with vital services,” Quiggle noted.

Quiggle is also a candidate for Northumberland County sheriff, and when asked which office he would choose if he was elected to both, he answered that he would likely select the commissioner post if Burd also won.

Quiggle, 30, has lived in Sunbury since 1988. A freelance journalist, he attended Shikellamy High School and SusQ-Cyber Charter School.

Burd, 46, a 1987 graduate of Shamokin Area High School, has taken classes at Penn State University and Bloomsburg University. He identified his occupation as an investor.

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