Q&A: Libertarian candidate for 66th district talks marijuana, government spending

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Edgar Chambers V is a Libertarian running for the Kansas House of Representatives in the 66th district. A Manhattan resident, Chambers went to college in South Carolina and Scotland before moving back to Manhattan last year, where he currently works in research tech at Kansas State’s sensory and consumer science center.

Peter Loganbill, staff writer: “Tell me about your background. Why are you a Libertarian in ideology?”

Chambers: “I’m more of a classical liberal than anything, and I feel that the Libertarian Party, while it isn’t a perfect representation of that, it is the best representation of that. I believe in freedom. I believe that people should be free to do as they please so long as they don’t hurt anybody else. That’s the primary ideology of Libertarianism.”

Loganbill: “What framed your views?”

Chambers: “Live and let live. I was raised to live and let live. So long as somebody isn’t hurting you, why should what they do matter to me? That’s kind of how I was raised, and going off to school in Scotland, it’s something that I carried with me and became more of an emphasis.”

Loganbill: “What I’ve noticed with a lot of libertarian-minded people is they don’t really see the party going anywhere, so they join the Republican Party. … What makes you want to be a member of the Libertarian Party?”

Chambers: “I think we can go places. I definitely don’t identify as a Republican, I’m actually a left-leaning Libertarian. I believe probably closer to the left on a lot of issues. I think that we do need less government, I tend to agree that we do need the basic staples, a lot of which the Democratic Party also supports — education, for example. I support more funding for public education, whereas most Republicans would support less funding, or keeping it the same.”

Loganbill: “So, why not the Democrats?”

Chambers: “They had somebody running, and she’s deeply entrenched. I want to make my viewpoints known. I want to get out there, and there are definitely things that I disagree with the Democratic Party with. I’m ‘pro-2A.’ I definitely believe in the Second Amendment, 100 percent. I believe that it is, in its basic form, the security for all the other amendments. That is something that we, the citizens, need, in my opinion.”

Loganbill: “What are some other basic staples of government?”

Chambers: “I would say infrastructure, definitely necessary. This is me differing from the party line. We do need infrastructure. We do need education. We do need welfare. Although it would be difficult to implement at the state level, I believe in the negative income tax by Milton Friedman. Great policy. Instead of deciding where the money is going and doing food stamps, and allocating it that way, you say, ‘Alright, what’s the very basic someone needs to live? We’re going to provide that. We’re going to give you money to cover that.’

“Currently, in our system, the marginal income tax rate, it does actually benefit people to stay on welfare, especially in the short-term. You can’t always look toward the short-term, you need to look toward the long-term. That’s a great example of how we can best do that. Instead of doing out the food stamps, you give it kind of a monthly stipend, or a biweekly income. Instead of choosing how they’re going to spend it, you let them decide for themselves how they’re going to spend it. People are already selling their food stamps and stuff for things that they want.”

Loganbill: “How do you think a libertarian ideology could benefit this district?”

Chambers: “I think, first off, you need to start by asking the question, ‘How can we solve problems with more freedom instead of less?’ In this district, for example, sales tax on food. We have a lot of people who, it’s charging them, combined state and total, is at roughly 12.42 percent for across the state. That’s ridiculous, the government shouldn’t be charging for the very bare necessities of life. That is one way that the libertarian ideology can help.

“Outside of this district, which will indirectly affect this district, for example, marijuana, allowing people to farm hemp. It’s currently legal, but it’s significantly regulated, to the point where it’s … seven people that are growing it for research purposes only. I think Kansas should become not only just a grower, but I think we should also become a manufacturer, start producing things out of hemp. If Kansas can start growing it on an industrial scale, we might be able to export it. That would be awesome for Kansas farmers, and that would be great for this district, because it will pull in money for education, for welfare, for roads, and that’s something that we need.”

Loganbill: “What would be your specific policy plans?”

Chambers: “I definitely will be sponsoring a bill for the legalization of medical marijuana [and] the legalization of marijuana in general. Two separate bills, because I want them both to pass. One is much easier to pass, and so [I’m] sponsoring those as separate bills. I’ll also look at eliminating the sales tax on food and water. I think it’s ridiculous, as I have said. Term limits, too. I think Kansas needs term limits for politicians. I think that people staying in office for 16, 18 years is too long. We need new ideas.

“There’s also two other things that I want to do, and that’s to institute single transferable vote for the Kansas House as a trial run. Currently, Kansas has 125 congressional districts. I’d like to condense that into 25 congressional districts, each sending five people. Then, doing ranked-choice voting, so that way people can decide who is best for them.

“Also, I think we need prison reform. Criminal justice reform is big. It currently costs $24,500 to house a prisoner per year — that’s not including county jails and stuff, which may be higher. Keeping people in jobs and [giving] people normalcy has shown to be key in keeping those people from committing the same crime again and again and again. So, instead of sending people to prison for nonviolent offenses, let’s put them on house arrest to where they can go out and work at the same time, so that way they can go to and from work, they can come home, to where they can keep that normalcy to some degree. They’re still restricted on their rights, they can’t do everything they want to, but allow them that normalcy, and allow them to keep their jobs so that way they can still be productive members of society. It’s ridiculous how we currently do it, that needs to be fixed.”

Loganbill: “What would you do to benefit college students?”

Chambers: “On the bill that I would want for passing marijuana, I think that 50 percent of all marijuana taxes should go directly to education. I think that needs to be split up between higher education and K-12, because Kansas has largely neglected its secondary education. We also need to work on allowing — and this isn’t so much a problem on Kansas State’s campus — but I would also be a champion of the Cafe Act, which [is] at the federal level, but instituting a state one to increase freedom of speech on college campuses to any outdoor areas with the normal restrictions. Obviously, you cannot be inciting violence; however, that needs to be open to all areas of campus, all outdoor areas of campus.

“I’d like to increase teacher pay, so that way we can bring in better teachers, better professors. Also, upgrading some of the equipment that we have in classes, allowing for more money. I work over at the sensory and consumer science center. We’re probably the most multicultural department on campus — there’s three Americans out of 15 students right now. Also, bringing those people in and working on getting those people citizenship. I would definitely try to work with some of our federal legislatures on easing the immigration process and quickening the legal immigration process.”

Loganbill: “What do you want people to know about you?”

Chambers: “I believe in ‘live and let live’ almost to a fault. I believe that Kansas needs changes, and I think that we need a disruption from the two party system that is currently in place. Mathematically, it has hurt Kansans by only giving us two choices for who’s going to represent us, and that’s something that needs to be fixed. Vote for me Nov. 6.”

Loganbill: “Is there anything else that you’d like to add?”

Chambers: “Kansas has a higher incarceration rate than North Korea. That’s pretty astounding. If Kansas was its own country, we’d have the highest incarceration rate in the world. [And] Kansas currently spends way too much. We have state troopers, for example, who are making over $100,000 a year in overtime alone, which is ridiculous. They can’t effectively be police officers at that point they’re working so much overtime.”

Loganbill: “What’s your favorite movie?”

Chambers: “I’m going to catch some flack for this, but ‘Fool’s Gold.’ I’m a diver, I love to scuba dive. ‘Fool’s Gold,’ and probably the most bromantic movie ever, ‘Top Gun.’”

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I'm Pete Loganbill and I'm a Staff Writer at the Collegian. After transferring from Johnson County Community College this year, I am now a junior in Public Relations. I believe constant communication leads to progress, no matter how difficult a comment may be for me or anyone to hear. Contact me at ploganbill@collegianmedia.com.