A University of Kansas student is running for a seat in the Kansas House of Representatives.
William Stewart-Starks, Whittier, Calif., senior, filed campaign papers with the Kansas Secretary of States office, June 9. He is running as a Libertarian for the Kansas State House 10th district, which includes part of Lawrence, south of Clinton Parkway.
The central ideas of Starks campaign are increasing personal freedoms and reducing the size of the government by making it more local.
I feel really strongly about education, Starks said. I think people should have more choices about where their kids go to school if theyre not satisfied with their public school.
Starks said eventually he would try for legislation that would stop citizens from paying for public school if their children were not using it. He ran for Student Senate under a similar platform, calling the University bus system socialist.
If you dont use the service you shouldnt have to pay for it, Starks said.
Starks said his campaign was also about getting honest people back into politics. Adam Wood, Lawrence senior and friend of Starks, said honesty was one of Starks best personal qualities. He plans to help Starks campaign in any way he can.
Will is actually honest and running for a good reason, Wood said. The thing about politicians is some get in it for money and power, but Will is doing it to get things done and help people.
Starks moved to Kansas from California when he joined the National Guard in 2003 and was stationed at Fort Riley. He started attending the University in 2006. He got involved in politics a year later when he campaigned for Ron Paul for President.
He was encouraged to become more active in government by Patrick Wilbur, an administrative professional at the student financial aid office.
I am very impressed with Williams focus and energy, Wilbur said. [The Libertarian Party] has been seeing an increase in outreach and fundraising over the past couple election cycles. I think Williams campaign will continue this trend.
The Libertarian Party, founded in 1971, is the third-largest political party in the U.S., behind the Republican Party and the Democratic Party. The Libertarian Party also says it has 200,000 registered voters, making it the fastest growing third-party in the U.S.
The Libertarian Party is liberal on social issues. It stresses the importance of individual liberties, like gay marriage and drug use, but is economically conservative. It advocates free trade and fewer taxes.
Overall, I think young people want to be let alone, and libertarians promise that, said Burdett Loomis, professor of political science. But the idea of community is also important, and many young folks have not had quite the experience of how community and reliance on both others and the government may well be crucial for living in an interdependent society.
The Libertarian Party may be growing, but in the U.S. third-party candidates typically struggle to get elected. Wood fears the Libertarian label could hurt Starks electability.
I hope people really check him out and dont just write him off because hes a Libertarian, Wood said. Hes honest and is all about common sense issues, so people shouldnt be turned-off by the word Libertarian.
The Kansas Congressional primary is August 5 and the general election is Tuesday, November 4.
Edited by Rustin Dodd