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Exclusive: Interview with gubernatorial candidate Matthew Hess

Matthew Hess speaks at an event
Matthew Hess

2014 is an election year in Colorado, and is sitting down with some of the candidates for governor so that the voters will be able to make informed decisions. We've already spoken with Glendale mayor Mike Dunafon, and now our second one in this series is a phone interview with Libertarian Party Nominee Matthew Hess, who is running as a third party candidate.

Hess has been in the information technology industry as a systems administrator and technologist for his entire career. He has lived in Colorado for 14 years, most of it in the Denver Metro Area. He also engages in many volunteer activities with groups such as the Boy Scouts of America.

We spoke with Hess regarding his run for governor.

Why are you running for governor?

I’m running because there aren’t any real party solutions anymore. It seems that the two parties differ in verbiage, but they are similar in action. The only real change that can occur is from an outside perspective.

What are your qualifications?

I’m an American. If you look across the political spectrum you see a lot of lawyers and businessmen who are politicians, but where are the firefighters, police, IT guys? I bring something different to the table because I’m not a politician. The reason people should vote for me is that I am going to get into office, do a good job, then get out before I become as useless as the government that I’m trying to fix.

Third party candidates have a reputation for being spoilers for the two major parties. Do you agree with this assessment?

No, I don’t think we are spoilers. In fact, Libertarians typically draw from both parties equally. I don’t agree with the “wasted vote” argument either. The only wasted vote is one that is unvoted. The parties don’t own your vote, you get to decide who has earned your vote. Our system tallies votes based on who you are voting for, not who you are voting against, so a vote for Libertarians is not a vote against someone else.

Why do you think that you have a better chance than past third party candidates?

It’s hard to tell right now where we stand because the polling companies won’t include us. I have actually started a petition, which can be found on my Facebook page, to show the polling companies that people are interested in how third party and independent candidates stack up.

Same-sex marriage appears to be heading toward legalization in Colorado. If elected, will you anything with regards to this issue?

I have no problem if people want to marry one another and they’re in love; it doesn’t matter what private parts you have, it doesn’t impact me at all. The government shouldn’t be involved in licensing marriages at all. The government licensing of marriages had its roots in segregation when they wanted to control segregation through the licensing of the marriages. I’m limited by what the governor can do because these things are controlled by the counties anyway, but I will advocate and promote eliminating restrictions on marriage.

What is your opinion on oil fracking?

I think hydraulic fracturing is an interesting technology, and I think it has proven itself to be more disruptive to the energy industry than the iPhone was for communications. Having said that, I will not support it or ban it because I will not use public funds for it. We need to just use common sense and let the market decide what power sources our country will use.

Do you support the ballot question on local control of fracking?

I don’t because that ballot question is misleading. It would allow groups of people to ban businesses and corporations. It could be used against other businesses, like Walmart and Starbucks, or even mom and pop businesses and restaurants.

Do you support an increase in alternative forms of energy, including green energy such as solar and wind?

I support an increase in all forms of energy without money from government. I’m partial to biofuels from things like hemp, I’d like to see that become a little more popular. We need to let the innovators help out the energy industry in this regard, without government money or interference.

Governor Hickenlooper postponed the execution of Chuck E Cheese killer Nathan Dunlap. What would you have done differently, if anything, in this case?

I hate to second guess decisions like this because I prefer to move forward. But if I was presented with this case I would have commuted the sentence because I oppose the death penalty. In this case it hasn’t been commuted, it’s not life in prison, it’s not death, it’s limbo. It’s not fair to Dunlap’s victims, or the families who were promised justice. I would have taken cues from states that do not allow governor interference in such cases. I would prefer to spend my time advocating for the elimination of the penalty. It’s a good idea to consider the opportunity to say “what if we didn’t have the power and the authority to do this?”

Do you believe that the legalization of marijuana has been a good thing overall? Do you have any any lasting concerns about the regulation and safety of marijuana?

I think crime is down, people are happier, we have fewer violent crimes in the Denver area. People are starting to see it as a real benefit. I was a proponent of Amendment 64. I think we’d be even better off than we currently are if not for Proposition AA, the tax increase for it. I’m more concerned that we are going to over-regulate it. We have a fledgling industry and I don’t want to see it regulated back to the stone age. We need to be really careful with the election this fall with those who want to do that.

Governor Hickenlooper enacted several gun control laws while in office. Will you attempt to repeal these laws if elected?

I will sign legislation if it hits my desk to repeal these laws, but I can’t do anything without something being passed. I’ll be governor, not dictator. I’m interested to see how the lawsuit by the sheriffs will go. They are suing over some of the restrictions. At one point it was dismissed, but that is being appealed.

What, if anything, will you do in order to make the Affordable Care Act more palatable to Coloradoans?

I have not had the opportunity to see if I have the authority to shut down the exchanges, but the governor has a large say over the budget. If we can start defunding it, we will. If we want cheaper alternatives getting the government involved will not help. Government only drives prices higher, not lower.

Do you support school choice in the form of vouchers?

Yes. I think competition is a good thing because it improves the quality of a product while reducing its price. Competition in a marketplace, like schools, lets the kids win. My opinion of the current public school system is not the best right now. We used to teach more advanced things at an earlier age. We used to teach advanced languages like Latin in high school, middle school. Now we are teaching remedial English in college. I spoke with someone about Common Core the other day and I suggested that control be more at the local level. In Colorado we are mostly a local control state, we have a state board of education and a department of education, but not a lot comes out beyond some standards. Districts are already required to set standards of a lowest common denominator or better. I suggested that she create a ballot initiative that would eliminate state functions and move to a complete local control. Boulder, Jefferson County, Douglas County, El Paso county. They could all do things the way they want, with decisions made at the local level who are closest to the decision making. We don’t have to all be the same, that’s what makes our state strong is that we are all different.

Do you support an increase in the minimum wage in Colorado?

I do not support a minimum wage increase in Colorado. Corporations don’t have to compete when there is a minimum wage. People should be free to exchange their labor for what they see fit. If a kid comes out of high school and wants to work for a little less to learn a valuable skill they should be allowed to do so. With a minimum wage we have a hamstrung economy.

Do you think that Colorado should do more to stem the tide of illegal immigration?

I think we should follow the Fourteenth Amendment of the US Constitution. Specifically, the privileges and immunities clause. People should be free to engage in contracts as they see fit without the state's interference. Because of taxation and regulation, businesses are incentivized to hire immigrants over citizens and that shouldn’t be the case. The cost of hiring people is much more than payroll, it includes taxes, social security, liability, you name it. There are a whole bunch of taxes on top of the payroll for hiring citizens that aren’t there for immigrants.

Would you like to add anything else?

I’ll add that a big reason to vote for me is that I have a huge incentive to do what I say. Politicians are notorious for saying one thing and eventually waffling. I won’t have that luxury. I’ll have to do exactly what I say I’m going to do and follow through on my promises because I want other libertarians to be elected in the future. If I act like a run of the mill politician whenever the wind changes then I will be hurting other libertarians in the future. I think that’s a very solid reason for people to elect me.

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