The Libertarian Party of Michigan held their annual LibertyFest banquet on November 14 at the Eagle Crest Marriot in Ypsilanti. For the past 17 years Libertarians have gotten together the week of two after Election Night to reflect on the previous year and to present the “Defender of Liberty Awards” to members of the community and party who have made a significant contribution to the cause of freedom.
The Spokesperson of Liberty is awarded to a member of the community whose patriotism and conviction have inspired others. This year, the award went to Rose Bogaert, the quintessential Michigan anti-tax activist. Rose has been a member of the Wayne County Taxpayers Association for 28 years and Chair for 27. Rose had also served on her local school board, been involved in passing term limits, litigation in the first Headlee Amendment case, and Rose was also instrumental in the recall the Speaker of the Michigan House, Andy Dillon. While this recall did not ultimately succeed, court victories along the way now make it easier to recall elected officials.
The Promoter of Liberty is awarded to a party member whose efforts have done the most to promote the LP and libertarian principles. The winner this year is Mark Byrne. Mark is Chair of the St. Clair County LP, and a former member of the Port Huron City Council, where local media has dubbed him a “champion of frugality”. Mark has generated a ton of positive local media, which usually describes him as a libertarian, for making the community friendlier for families and small businesses. Unfortunately, Mark barely lost his re-election campaign this November, despite the endorsement of the local paper.
The Producer of Liberty award goes to an LP member who’s dedicated behind the scenes work for the party helps keep the organization running. Larry Johnson has worked behind the scenes for the Washtenaw County LP for the past 10 years, serving at various positions including Chair, Secretary, delegate to national conventions, and several LPM convention committees. Larry first joined the LP at a booth at the Ann Arbor Fair, an event Larry has helped to organize every year since. Larry is also one of our elected partisan officials. It’s fitting that Larry gets this award in Ypsilanti Township, the same community where he serves on the Parks Committee.
Following the awards ceremony, guests were treated to a speech by David Littmann, senior economist with the Mackinac Center for Public Policy and former vice president of Comerica Bank. He spoke on “Impact Issues for Candidates in 2010.” The final speaker of the night was from Wes Benedict, executive director of the Libertarian National Committee who discussed the LP strategy for the 2010 elections (“Why Libertarians Make a Difference”).
Defender of Liberty Awards (“Libbies”) have been presented at our annual LibertyFest Banquet to a maximum of four select individuals, Libertarian or otherwise, who have made notable personal efforts in the defense of liberty. Winners must live and/or work in the state of Michigan.
Three categories have been established:
Spokesperson for Liberty – a member of the community whose patriotism and conviction have inspired contributions to the cause of Liberty
Promoter of Liberty – A Libertarian whose efforts have done the most to promote the LP and Libertarian principles
Producer of Liberty – a dedicated, behind-the-scenes Libertarian whose quiet labors over the years exemplifies the backbone of the LP.
A fourth award is available to be given at the judge’s discretion.