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Written by Heather Gwynn
Follow Heather on Twitter at @starlasworld
Jess Mears was raised in Lima, Ohio and currently resides in St. Petersburg Florida. She attended college at the University of Cincinnati where she majored in Communications & Public Relations. Jess is a member of the Florida Libertarian Party, and a card carrying National Libertarian member since 2008.
For the 2016 Gary Johnson and Bill Weld campaign, Jess was the Florida Director from July-August and the National Events Director from August-November. Jess is currently employed as the Development Coordinator for the Libertarian National Committee.
Jess spends many of her weekends doing repairs and upgrades to her home. She has two rescue dogs that Jess jokes, take her for walks. During her free time, Jess likes to go Paddleboarding.
LV (Liberty Viral): How did you get introduced to the liberty movement, and when did you get actively involved?
Jess: I first discovered the Libertarian Party when I signed up for Facebook. One of the questions I was asked to fill-in was the ‘party affiliation’ category. I was raised by apolitical parents and had never considered myself partisan. I found the Worlds Smallest Political Quiz on the Internet and the results informed me that I feel into the Libertarian category. I researched the Libertarian Party and felt the platform was in line with my personal views. I became involved with the movement when I attended university and noticed at ‘Club Day’ that the libertarians lacked representation. Thus started my conquest to form a student group and also prompted my involvement with the Libertarian Party of Ohio.
LV: What cause is most important to you within the movement?
LV: Who is your liberty role model and why?
Jess: Kevin Knedler
The Libertarian Party values youth voices more than any other movement I’ve encountered. I was a freshman in college when I first met Kevin Knedler and many other leaders within the Libertarian Party of Ohio. Instead of being dismissed due to my inexperience, I was welcomed and encouraged to get involved. Kevin encouraged me to seek leadership within the party and to run for office. He is a great motivator and demonstrates the best skills of a leader.
LV: In your opinion, which active Libertarian is most influential, and why?
Jess: 2016 was clearly the year of the Libertarian. It was also the year that many Americans learned about the word libertarian. The libertarian name recognition is now at an all-time high and the LP has a great opportunity to capitalize on the record numbers of disenfranchised voters. I think 2017 could be the year of the Libertarians as a collective movement. The Johnson Weld campaign brought in many new faces to the Libertarian Party. While on the road for the campaign, I was motivated and inspired by the people that supported the Johnson Weld campaign. I had the opportunity to meet elderly that had never been to a political rally before, families with young children and teenagers that weren’t eligible to vote and had to get rides from their parents to attend the rallies. It was quite moving to be part of a historic presidential campaign and to experience the outpouring of support across the country. If state Libertarian parties are able to organize and recruit this year, the LP may realize an opportunity to grow significantly. The entire movement is potentially a force to be reckoned with and together our influence can end the two party system in America.
LV: How would you approach someone who is showing an initial interest in Libertarianism?
Jess: “Welcome, would you like to come to one of our meetings?”
LV: What is the first book you would tell someone who is interested in the LP to read?
Jess: Don’t go straight to books if you’re interested in a political party. Go to a meeting. Party politics is all about people and networking. If you want to read political philosophy, order some Murray N. Rothbard on Amazon.
LV: What do you like most about being involved in the LP?
Jess: The people. Libertarians are fam.
LV: If you could eliminate one Government agency, which would it be and why?
Jess: IRS, it’s currently tax season and I have more receipts to organize than I care to admit.
LV: What plans do you have to to grow the party in 2017?
Jess: I plan to stay involved at the local level and help with a campaign to increase involvement from registered Libertarians in my county.
LV: What words of advice would you give to other Libertarians on how to get involved in the party, locally and nationally?
Jess: Show up and do what you can. The best place to start is your county affiliate. If one does not exist, consider contacting your state party and offering to help organize the affiliate. Organizing at the local level can be challenging because activists have to juggling their personal lives along with activism but it can be rewarding. Each person has unique talents and it’s important to encourage Libertarians to get involved in a way that they are comfortable and enjoy. Some activists enjoy doing behind the scenes work on their computers while others are sign waving and cheering activists. The volunteer hours of activists are extremely valuable.
Wearing clothing that says “Libertarian” can be an easy outreach tool and you’ll be surprised by how many people want to have a conversation about libertarianism.
LV: Let’s lighten it up a bit with a couple of questions just for fun. What is your favorite genre of music?
Jess: Bluegrass / Alt-Country
LV: Which band do you think has the most libertarian message?
Jess: Frank Turner