Hennepin County recently considered a 1% tax increase even in a recession, after burdening residents with another 5% property tax hike last year. In a county where residents are used to being squeezed by county officials, Libertarian candidate Mary O’Connor has decided that enough is enough. She’s taking on entrenched incumbent Mike Opat in District 1, which includes Brooklyn Center, Brooklyn Park, north Crystal, northwest Minneapolis, north New Hope, Osseo, and Robbinsdale.

Mary O'Connor holding her yard sign for Hennepin County CommissionerMs. O’Connor sees many areas where spending can be cut significantly so the savings can be passed on to the people. In recent years, Commissioners have ratcheted their salaries up to $97,000. While officials pay themselves such generous salaries, many residents are struggling to keep their jobs and pay the county’s ever-increasing tax levy. She would push for all Commissioners to become part-time positions with salary reductions to around $30,000.

She believes the county has been overspending on parks. Most people visit a park to enjoy a natural area, not for the expensive buildings now being built by the county. She would also cut the Housing & Redevelopment Authorities, citing the Humboldt Greenway where the county spent $17 million to buy and demolish modest homes in order to build expensive homes. They didn’t finish the project and now the area is vacant land. Eminent domain was used in a few cases to seize people’s homes, which Ms. O’Connor strongly opposes. The county shouldn’t be forcing people out of their homes or wasting taxpayer money on misguided housing boondoggles. Furthermore, she opposed the county’s sales tax for the Twins stadium. She’ll oppose other types of corporate welfare as well, including any taxpayer funds toward a new Vikings stadium. She believes that it’s up to business owners to pay for their own facilities, not to shift those costs onto the backs of taxpayers.

Light rail is a major issue for Ms. O’Connor. The Central Corridor Light Rail project, now underway between Minneapolis and St. Paul along University Avenue, is expected to cost taxpayers $370 million. Similarly-expensive passenger rail projects are also on the table for the northwest and southwest metro areas. She would eliminate these rail projects, which benefit a small number of commuters at the expense of all residents countywide. Instead, she believes that rail infrastructure should be built by entrepreneurs. Entrepreneurs have a profit-incentive to choose rail routes which match actual demand from customers, while politically-chosen routes are likely to be uneconomic and to incur losses. Potential for profitability will encourage rail development as well as compensate for the risk that a rail business might be unsuccessful. That risk shouldn’t be dumped onto taxpayers, as is now being done with the government’s passenger rail monopoly.

Furthermore, Ms. O’Connor believes that passenger rail shouldn’t simply be “privatized” in the usual scheme where government officials subcontract it to a single company, but that it should instead be “marketized”. She would work to reduce or eliminate government red tape, permitting, legal hurdles, and other bureaucratic barriers which prevent competitors from easily entering the industry. Multiple passenger rail companies would then be free to compete to provide commuters with the best service at the most affordable prices. Commuters who prefer light rail would then have this option, while those who don’t use it won’t be forced to pay for it. This libertarian vision of a genuine free market would be vastly superior to either the government-owned monopoly which is supported by most liberals, or a government-granted monopoly to a single politically-connected company which is typically favored by most conservatives.

Unlike many politicians who huff about fighting government waste, Ms. O’Connor has a solid track record to back it up. As an elected Libertarian on the Brooklyn Center City Council, she was a dependable vote against new spending schemes and tax increases. While on the council, she quickly became known as “council member No”.

She reminds residents how Mike Opat once remarked that elected officials shouldn’t stay in office longer than 10 years. Mr. Opat has now been on the Board for 18 years. She believes the county is overdue for a change in leadership, and a change in attitudes as well. Once elected, she would focus on basic county services, such as roads, courts, libraries, and maintenance of existing parks. Non-essential programs need to be cut, because in these tough economic times, residents of Hennepin County need their money far more than county bureaucrats do.

Mary O’Connor would be a strong voice for fiscal responsibility on the Hennepin County Board. Please support Mary O’Connor for Hennepin County Commissioner on November 2.

Her email is mary_oconnor08@hotmail.com.

Concerned about the relentless expansion of government control and the erosion of individual liberty? Consider joining and becoming active in the Libertarian Party of Minnesota. Libertarians stand in support of liberty on all issues, all the time. Libertarianism is a philosophical and political movement promoting individual freedom, voluntary interaction, genuine free markets, and peace.