Ms. LaGrone, who ran as a Republican when she was elected in 2006 and defeated for the party’s renomination in 2010, is the first candidate to announce for the Libertarian nomination for any Upshur County office in the 2014 elections.
Unlike Republicans and Democrats, who hold primary elections, the local Libertarians will choose any nominees for county office at their county convention March 4. (Any Libertarian nominee would appear on the November 2014 general election ballot.)
Ms. LaGrone is among three candidates to announce thus far for County Clerk. The others, Terri Ross (See The Mirror, Nov. 9) and Lisa Neeley, are Republicans. Incumbent Barbara Winchester, who was appointed to the post recently when Brandy Lee resigned it to become County Auditor, has announced she will not run.
In announcing her candidacy to 15 persons at the Upshur Libertarians’ monthly meeting, held at the Buckeye Country Cafe, Ms. LaGrone touted her record as County Clerk and said she “didn’t get to finish what I started because I was too busy fending off the Republicans.”
She said she had been told “‘you need to run as a Republican,’ so I did. I was the first woman elected countywide as a Republican, and it went straight downhill from there.”
In fact, Ms. LaGrone said, she initially stated she wouldn’t run again because “they burnt me out.” But now, she said, she wants to “finish what I started.”
As County Clerk, Ms. LaGrone said, she started a website where the public can see county records. She said she also started escrow accounts so that attorneys and landmen operated on their money, not the county’s.
In addition, she said, she archived records to preserve the county’s history. After a vendor she called in said it would cost $600,000, she said, she refused that and instead used the office’s information technology worker, who accomplished the project in six weeks for $600.
As for political parties, she said, “I would really like to thank the Libertarian Party for hanging in there.
“I think that people now are totally fed up” with Democrats and Republicans, Ms. LaGrone said. She said both major parties had “closed our federal government down. What are they thinking?”
She also said that “what we saw in our federal government, we also saw. . . in Upshur County” when two warring factions split the GOP—a reference to the past division between a group headed by then-County Republican Chairman Ken Ambrose, and one supportive of Cynthia Ridgeway, who is now the county GOP chairman.
Thus, while Ms. LaGrone said she agreed with part of the Libertarian platform and disagreed with some of it, “I would like to ask for the nomination of the Libertarian Party,” she said.
“You’re (Libertarians) a lot more open than they (Republicans) are,” she said. “You don’t do deals behind closed doors.”
She said that an organization known as “The Reagan Project” was developed in the past to elect candidates that “a certain group” of Republicans wanted, and she urged “See who your officeholders take money from. If they take it from (what is now called) the Reagan PAC, you better look at that candidate.”
Ms. LaGrone also said that as a GOP candidate, she had been “pressured” to take party money, but “they’re not going to pull my strings.”
She urged the group not to let State Republican Executive Committee District One Committeewoman Sue Evenwel (who is also Titus County Republican Party Chairman), and former SREC District One Committeeman Steve Findley, “run our county.”
Ms. LaGrone’s announcement that she will seek the Libertarian nomination brought a favorable reaction from party member Sherri Little, who said “I salute you.”
Upshur County Libertarian Chairman Vance Lowry added that he admired the way Ms. LaGrone conducted elections as County Clerk, and told her “I believe you’ve got a great chance.”
Mark Grimes told Ms. LaGrone that when he was the county Libertarian chairman, she treated him with “respect and dignity” in conducting elections.
As for what the candidate said about the Republican Party, Lowry—himself a former Republican—said Morris County Libertarian Chairman Gloria Davis had been “drummed out of” the GOP for supporting Presidential candidate Ron Paul when she was a delegate to the Republican state convention.
Before Ms. LaGrone spoke, the local Libertarian chairman had said, “We believe in party-switching. Some (who’ve done that) are here.” (They included Ms. Davis.)
Lowry also said he had hated to see that some Virginians “wasted their vote” on the Republican candidate who lost to the Democrat in that state’s recent gubernatorial election. (A Libertarian candidate also ran.)
Later, he warned Ms. LaGrone she would be asked about their party’s stance in favor of legalizing drugs, but pointed out this issue had nothing to do with being County Clerk.
“Libertarians are not for drug use, but we’re against the War on Drugs because it’s not working,” Lowry said.
He also said he hoped for more Libertarian candidates for county office (who must file with him by Dec. 9), and he contended that his party’s positions on issues are “ascendant” while the two major parties’ views are “descendant.”
Lowry said Republicans and Democrats will spend taxpayers’ money on conducting primary elections, but “we don’t do that.” (Libertarians instead nominate their candidates at conventions.)
Concerning his party’s view on another topic, Lowry said getting involved in other people’s troubles in the world is bankrupting the United States.
“We’re in the throes of the military-industrial complex that Eisenhower warned us about, and we need to get out of that,” Lowry argued. Noting the U.S. has 11 carrier battle groups, he added, “We need to quit policing the world for the benefit of our munitions makers.”
He also said he and Ms. Davis had been invited to address government classes at White Oak High School on Friday (Nov. 15), and at Gilmer High School Dec. 6. Those schools are also inviting representatives of the two major parties to speak, and “it’s nice to be included,” Lowry said.