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New Haven Libertarian eyes state Senate seat

NEW HAVEN — If Archie Flower were to come up with a campaign slogan, it would probably be “Live and let live.”
That phrase, in essence, sums up the philosophy of the Libertarian Party under whose banner Flower, a 47-year-old New Haven resident, is running for one of the two state Senate seats representing Addison County, Huntington and Buel’s Gore.
“It’s the golden rule,” Flower said during a Monday interview.
Flower’s entry into the Senate race adds to a very diverse crop of candidates. Along with Flower, the field includes incumbent state Sen. Chris Bray, D-New Haven; Middlebury Democrat Ruth Hardy; Addison Republican Peter Briggs; and independents Paul Ralston of New Haven and Marie Audet of Bridport.
Incumbent state Sen. Claire Ayer, D-Addison, has decided not to run for re-election after 16 years in Montpelier.
Flower is a lifelong Addison County resident. He’s always been interested in politics and gravitated toward the Libertarian Party around 15 years ago. He found himself drawn to the Libertarian ideals of autonomy, freedom of choice, voluntary association and individual judgment.
It was in 2016 that Flower decided to become politically active.
“I was watching the Libertarian National Convention and our chairman, Nicholas Sarwark, said something to the effect of, ‘If you don’t join the party, you can’t make any changes,’” Flower recalled. “So I stopped being a philosophical Libertarian and became a member of the party, and decided that I wanted to run (for office).”
It was too late in the 2016 election cycle for Flower to run for any legislative posts. So he set his sights on 2018 and filed his paperwork with the Vermont Secretary of State’s office in early August. He said he chose to run for the Senate (versus the Vermont House) because “it will give more leverage and a bully pulpit for my views. I think being one of 30 is going to make more of a splash than being one of 150.”
Flower has since 2010 worked as a computer technician at UTC Aerospace in Vergennes. He worked a variety of jobs prior to that, including as a bouncer, a deli clerk and cashier, and as a laborer at the former Specialty Filaments plastics company in Middlebury.
When he isn’t at work or campaigning, Flower — who jokingly refers to himself as a “nerd” — can be found immersed in science fiction literature or movies.
The Libertarian Party platform, according to Flower, contains many sensible ideals that should appeal to the independent instincts in many Vermonters. He noted article six of the Vermont Constitution — which calls on state officials to be the servants of the people — parallels a major Libertarian principle of individual freedom.
“I believe that Montpelier has by and large completely forgotten (that Constitutional directive) and has in essence completely inverted it,” Flower said. “(The politicians) treat us like they own us, and act like a class of nobility.
“I think that relationship of the people actually being in charge… needs to be restored,” he added.
If elected, Flower’s priorities will include repealing a series of new gun laws signed last spring by Gov. Phil Scott. Those laws, among other things, mandate background checks prior to firearm purchases, raise the minimum age to buy a gun to 21 (with exceptions for some younger people), forbid high-capacity ammo magazines, and allow authorities to confiscate firearms from gun owners deemed to present a danger to themselves or others.
GUN OWNERSHIP
As a Libertarian, Flower doesn’t believe in restrictions on firearms. He also pointed to the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution that speaks to the right to bear arms. He doesn’t believe the proliferation of firearms has had a bearing on gun violence trends in Vermont or throughout the nation.
“If someone wants to own a firearm — whether it be for self-defense or hunting, target shooting or sports shooting or whatever the reason — that’s their human right,” he said. “It’s an inalienable right. And governments don’t grant rights; they’re supposed to protect them. We have our rights from birth; because we are human, we have our rights.”
Flower is also an unabashed foe of Act 46, Vermont’s school governance consolidation law. The law provides financial incentives for school districts to consolidate their governance as a means of containing the rising costs of public education in an era when Vermont’s student population has been on the decline. All Addison County communities except Orwell have thus far complied with Act 46, joining into various unified school districts, each governed by one board and financed by a single education budget.
“I’m disturbed by the trend in Montpelier to try and centralize school control,” said Flower, who believes schools should have remained governed by their local school boards. “I think education is the only tool we have to ensure that civilized society will continue. I think centralizing education on Montpelier is the exact wrong thing. I think we need more local control, more private schools and we need to give more parents the tools to homeschool.”
Another one of Flower’s priorities: Advocating for an amendment to the Vermont Constitution to allow the property tax to be abolished. He subscribes to the principle that if a citizen has paid off his or her mortgage, that person should own his or her property free and clear and not be subject to future taxes on that real estate. Flower believes the sales or income taxes would be more appropriate sources of revenue for public education and other essential services.
“I believe taxation should be as simple as possible,” he said. “The tax code shouldn’t be a make-work code for accountants.”
In an ideal world, Flower would like to see a “voluntary society” where people contribute what they can for services.
“But that will take a long time,” he acknowledged.
Flower subscribes to the notion that all drugs should be legalized, so long as consumers don’t use them in a manner that might harm someone else (such as through drunk driving).
“As long as you’re not hurting someone, do as you will,” Flower said.
He’s opposed to a universal health care system, and instead believes the state should allow more competition among private insurance companies as a way of lowering the costs of coverage.
“As with most other things, the freer the market in health care, the better off people will be,” Flower said. “Quality will go up, supply will go up and prices will go down.”
And Flower believes people should have more say in their insurance coverage. He said people should only be required to carry liability insurance in order to cover any harm or damages they might accidentally inflict on another person.
Flower will officially launch his campaign at a lunchtime event on Saturday, Sept. 8, at Branbury State Park. He promised further details on the exact time and spot within the park.
Being a Libertarian, Flower hopes to gain as much support for what he won’t do to voters as for what he promises to do for them.
“Don’t do anything to anyone else that you wouldn’t want to have done to you,” he said.
Reporter John Flowers is at [email protected].

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