Queens County Libertarian Party’s chairman is 20. Its Vice Chair is 22. And its treasurer? 19.
Yet this isn’t a party of millennials, Democrats, or Republicans. It’s a party of “bright, new ideas,” said Chairperson Christopher Padilla.
“Those are the people who are going to get our endorsements. People with new ideas that are practical and realistic,” he said.
While in existence for years, the party became active after 2015. As Padilla explained, “disgruntled Republicans” led the organization until the state Libertarian Party remade the local chapter.
While Padilla worked as a deputy chief of staff for Usman Ali Chohan, the party’s temporary chairperson, Elliot Axelman, asked Padilla if he would join the Queens chapter. Padilla agreed after thinking about it, and, after a year, he became the official chairperson.
As the chair, Padilla revised the organization’s official rules. This included allowing candidates to run on the Libertarian Party line while receiving other nominations.
“A lot of people know as a Libertarian you can’t win without another major party’s nomination,” he said.
Of course, the party, which believes in social-liberal and fiscal-conservative policies, values local Queens issues and elections. It endorsed 22-year-old Eric Butkiewicz, the Republican candidate running against State Sen. Joseph P. Addabbo, Jr. (D-Howard Beach, Ozone Park, Woodhaven, Glendale, Middle Village, Maspeth and parts of South Ozone Park, Ridgewood, Woodside and The Rockaways).
Padilla stressed the party is bipartisan when supporting elected officials and candidate. Kenneth Lee, the party’s treasurer, is running for the 40th District City Council seat in 2021 and is seeking the Democratic nomination.
Furthermore, Padilla cited former City Councilmember Mark Weprin as an example of what public officials should do in communities. The Oakland Gardens resident elaborated that Weprin’s office always had a representative, which he viewed as vital for the community. He hadn’t found the same presence with other officials, whether City Council or State Assembly.
Padilla stressed that one major goal of the party was informing people of their rights in elections. He cited a potential effort to work with different organizations to teach civic engagement with high school youths.
“We’re not going to tell them vote Libertarian. We’re not going to tell them vote Republican. We’re going to give them their choice,” he said.
The result from such an effort would be a politically-aware constituent once they are able to vote. Padilla cited the students in Parkland as an example of people coming together to urge reform.
“People who are coming into the new generation ready for politics are helping the other people who just want to work, who just want to go to school get their lives done,” Padilla said. “That’s what politics is supposed to be.”
Padilla believes a change may soon come to the borough with the previous mayoral election as an example. While helping on State Assemblymember Nicole Malliotakis’ (R-Bay Ridge, Staten Island) campaign for mayor, he saw five Assembly districts in Queens go for the GOP candidate.
“You want to vote for someone who is going to change something. In 2017, five AD decided Nicole Malliotakis was that person. In the future, if you find someone who lines up with what your community needs I guarantee that your community votes for that person,” he said.
The organization is still growing with, what Padilla estimated, around 250 dues-paying members that include a variety of people from diverse backgrounds, whether Democrat or Republican. The focus for the chapter this year is the election of Larry Sharpe, the Libertarian candidate for Governor in a divisive Democratic primary.
“On November 7th, we’ll find out who our Governor will be. Maybe it’ll be Cynthia Nixon. Maybe it’ll be Andrew Cuomo,” he said. “Maybe it’ll be Larry Sharpe.”