2014 is an election year in Colorado, and Examiner.com is sitting down with some of the candidates for key races so that the voters will be able to make informed decisions. We've already spoken with Glendale Mayor Mike Dunafon, and Libertarian Party Nominee Matthew Hess. The third one in this series is a phone interview with Libertarian Party Lieutenant Governor Nominee Brandon Young, Matthew Hess’ running mate.
Young spent 14 years in the TV business, working as a writer and a designer. He now works with rehab and recovery centers as a graphic designer. He is a small business owner, a photographer and the son of small business owners. He does service and volunteer work in the community, including with the VA hospital, Maxfund no-kill animal shelter, and Operation Homefront.
We spoke with Young regarding his run for lieutenant governor.
Why are you running for lieutenant governor?
Politics are important to me because they matter. What has happened in politics is that we’ve gotten so far from the original intent of the constitution, and that’s why it’s so bad. The people who are passionate should be involved. I’ve been involved as a libertarian for awhile, but I decided it was time to stop being quietly involved and start fighting back to make a change.
What are your qualifications?
I am an American citizen and a Colorado native. I am well versed in politics, a good member of the community and I do a lot of volunteer activism. But I think what qualifies me most is that I am not a politician. I think so many of our problems are from people who are fighting to be politicians. If you look back in history to the late 1700s and into the 1800s, a lot of the people who came up with all of those great ideas were not career politicians. I’m not running for the money, I don’t care about it for money or a career in politics. My family has been involved in politics in Colorado for a long time. My great-grandfather was with the Denver DA’s office, and then the Chief Justice of the Colorado Supreme Court. He’s always been an inspiration to me. He went from living in a tent on 37th and Tennyson to one of the most powerful men in Colorado.
Third party candidates have a reputation for being spoilers for the two major parties. Do you agree with this assessment?
No I don’t. The only reason people think this is because of the parties who think we are taking votes away from them; that voting for third party is throwing away your vote. But if you are voting on principle and are doing the right thing then you’re not throwing away your vote. The other parties are losing touch and losing votes and they have sour grapes about it.
Why do you think that you have a better chance than past third party candidates?
Colorado is in a unique position. We have a large number of independent voters. A lot of the voter base here are the younger guys and gals who are coming out of college. They’re coming into a difficult economy and a difficult time. Republican and democrat, those labels are so far removed from what they were when they were originally organized. They don’t fit the new voters especially, but they don’t fit the other voters either. The democrats and republicans are taking money from the same donors and from the same sides. We need to let people know that there is another choice. I think that sets us up better than in years past.
Same-sex marriage appears to be heading toward legalization in Colorado. If elected, how will you ensure that the LGBTQ community will gain equal rights?
I support anybody being able to marry anybody. To me, it’s not about same-sex marriage, it’s about why the government should be involved in marriage at all. The fact that the government can set standards and definitions for people’s personal lives is ridiculous. We need to remove government from the equation. Giving everybody equal rights under the constitution means removing restrictions from the LGBTQ community and the straight communities alikes.
What is your opinion on oil fracking?
I feel that the government has been involved too much with this. Fracking has been going on a long time, but it’s surprising to me that it’s only become such a largeissue in the past few years. It’s not a new technology, we get a lot of our energy from fracking. What we need to do is decrease our dependence on energies from outside sources. The government shouldn’t be involved in these decisions, though. Bans on fracking are an overstepping of government authority, but people should have a say in whether or not they want it. Those decisions are being made far away from the people who they affect. We should let capitalism do its job and let nature take its course. But it’s a careful balance, we don’t want big business running people over either.
Do you have any environmental concerns about it?
I’m no expert on fracking, but I know it’s been going on for a long time with safe results. A lot of communities have had no problems with it, and we should encourage better and safer ways if evidence tells us that we really should. But we need to let the scientists tell us that, not the politicians. I think that people have been poisoned with a lot of hype and propaganda about this.
Do you support an increase in alternative forms of energy, including green energy such as solar and wind?
I think they are all great ideas, people should want to look for other ways. I work in Boulder on Pearl St and I walk by the Greenpeace kids on the street, they’re always talking about shutting down the coal mines. I applaud the desire for a cleaner environment, but what about our trains? Oil too, how will we get things like food? So much of our economy is reliant on these fossil fuels, and it’s not the best that we rely on them. We should encourage solar and wind, but we need to let the market and capitalism work to let that grow. People get upset about the government handouts to the oil companies, but the government gives almost as many handouts to the solar companies as they do to the oil companies lately. Let the people push and develop the technologies. It’s a long term thing that we need to encourage on this issue.
Governor Hickenlooper postponed the execution of Chuck E Cheese killer Nathan Dunlap. What would you have done differently, if anything, in this case? Do you support the death penalty in such cases?
I’m a little more conservative than most libertarians on this issue, as I’m a supporter of the death penalty. With today’s technology in DNA, and when it’s proven beyond a doubt, I think we can have the death penalty. With Dunlap, this is a guy who admitted to the crime, has showed no remorse and he was convicted by a jury. I think Hickenlooper not going through with the will of the people is a failure of leadership, like his decision is more important than the jury’s. One of the most important things from our founding constitution is the jury system. I don’t like how politicized the death penalty has become. A lot of these decisions are made by DAs who are trying to get elected or stay in office. We should find an effective way to remove the politics from the system. But in this case the guy admitted to it, had no remorse, open and close. As a libertarian, I like to look at placing the value of something. There is no value of keeping this horrible person alive, with the horrors he committed against people. It’s an easy decision for me.
Do you support the legalization of marijuana? Do you believe that the legalization has been a good thing overall?
I am in support, but I don’t like that it was an amendment. We should have written a new law decriminalizing, or removed the original law that made it illegal in the first place. But I support people being allowed to use it, I just think the constitutional amendment process should be reserved for protecting the rights of citizens.
Do you have any any lasting concerns about the regulatory and safety of marijuana?
There are a couple of things that bother me about the whole thing. If we want to make this a legitimate industry we need to address the taxation issue. The taxation and regulations need to be more similar with what we do on alcohol. The legal limits for driving, from what I know, are set too tight. I don’t know the numbers exactly, but we should look into what really is too stoned to drive.
Governor Hickenlooper enacted several gun control laws while in office. Will you attempt to repeal these laws if elected?
I would do everything in my power to get rid of those laws. The Colorado constitution does more to protect the 2nd Amendment than anything else. I’m a lifelong shooter and a strong supporter of the 2nd Amendment, I know the history of why we have it. There’s not a lot I can do as Lieutenant Governor, besides get out there and support gun rights. These laws were feel-good laws, and they don’t really address the root causes, they don’t really do anything. If we want to make a difference we need to address the root problems. We have a history in this country of neglecting the mental health issues. Addressing that is going to go a lot further into fixing those problems. What I don’t understand is why people put up such a fight about having armed guards in our schools. We have armed guards in malls, banks, even King Soopers, but somehow putting them into our schools is offensive? That blows my mind. I’ve been a member of the NRA for a long time, they are the largest promoters and trainers of firearm safety. We need to encourage good firearm safety.There’s plenty of data that says we are no safer with these laws. The numbers for the background checks are so far below what they said they would be. These were just people trying to keep their jobs and follow a political agenda. Having these laws hurts everybody, not just the gun guys.
What, if anything, will you do in order to make the Affordable Care Act more palatable to Coloradoans?
I don’t have much power on this, but if there was a way that I could remove it, I would. I won’t deny or debate that our system is broken. The standard of care and the cost of care are a problem. You can go to one hospital and pay $10,000 for a procedure, then go to another hospital and pay $45,000. We have things like this and insurance on top of that, how can we expect it to work? I would like to see health insurance work like car insurance, have the companies compete for rates. There should be standard costs for care. I think, if anything, if people are uninsured due to disability or age we should think about expanding Medicare or Medicaid. They are pushing this marketplace they created as if it’s revolutionary, as if we couldn’t get health insurance before. I was doing contract work before and I was able to call up Anthem and get coverage. I could’ve called another company and get rate quotes from them too. It’s been a total mess, we need to let the market take care of it. I think that should go a long way into fixing it.
Do you support school choice in the form of vouchers?
I think people should have a little more say in where their kids go to school. I applaud the things they are doing in Douglas County because it’s the community saying that they know how better to take care of their residents than the state. More people should go with that idea. The state board of education and the federal board of education, thinking that people in Denver or Washington know better what should go on in Garfield County is ridiculous. The parents know better what their kids need. The fact that we have remedial english and math in colleges shows how broken our system is. The tenure system and unions have been so detrimental to our education system. We should be encouraging people to work harder and be smarter. I am a big supporter of teachers, I don’t blame them for the problems. My dad was a teacher for a long time, and I did some student teaching in college, and some corporate training. I understand adult education. I blame the superintendents and the politicians who are making the decisions right now.
Do you support an increase in the minimum wage in Colorado?
I don’t, no. This is a multi-level issue. After Seattle passed their minimum wage increase, people were excited. But they don’t think about the repercussions of something like that. It’s the same as with mandated health care for small businesses. If we could afford to get that better wage and still have businesses be profitable and successful I think that would be great. I see the concerns people have when they get their raise at the end of the year and it’s 2.5 percent, but their costs went up eight or nine percent. But it’s already hard to be a business owner. You hear these politicians talking about helping the middle class, from both the federal level and the state. These are the things that hurt the middle class. These are the people that create jobs. My mom and stepdad are small business owners. They already face higher licensing fees, higher insurance with things like the Affordable Care Act. The only thing these do is hurt the middle class and make it harder to be successful.
How would you handle the current immigration crisis? Do you think that Colorado should do more to stem the tide of illegal immigration?
I think that the states should have a little more power to deal with immigration, just like with education. The 10th Amendment to the constitution is about states’ rights; the constitution wouldn’t have passed without it. People were leery about the federal government having too much power, that’s why we have the 10th Amendment. I’m a huge supporter of immigration, most of the families in the country come from immigrant families. As for illegal immigration, people should do it the right way. There’s a long history of people doing it right. Improvements need to be made to the system, people who are undocumented maybe becoming documented, going on probation, paying back taxes, somthing. Maybe even go back to using military service as a way of working toward citizenship. Things like that are great. But the states should have a say, not just the federal level.
Do you have anything else to add?
I’m not much of a speech giver, I don’t come with an agenda, I just have some political beliefs. I think we need to restore politicians who accurately represent the people. Of the few events I have gone to, people always ask what my stance is on issues, I simply ask what theirs is.The will of the people has gone away, that’s one of the biggest problems in our country. I think it was John Locke who wrote that people should have an equal footing with the politicians. People have stopped fighting for their rights, they’re not as angry; it’s ok to be angry When people stop being involved the politicians take their rights. I care about this state, and we need to expand our view outside of the Denver area. Denver has undue influence over the rest of the state; the Western Slope, the Eastern Plains and other areas of this state are being controlled by Denver politics.