The Libertarian Party of Georgia will hold its annual convention in Athens on March 16 at the Hyatt Place on Thomas Street. There will be a reception Friday night before the convention starts at 8 a.m. on Saturday.
The majority of the convention will feature speakers and “thinkers” within the Libertarian Party, discussing topics such as running for office and communications within a political party.
April Brown, chairwoman of the Libertarian Party of Athens, said attendees can expect to see events other than just keynote speakers.
Brown said there will be the election of the state chair positions and panels on improving the party’s membership. Additionally, some people come from the national party to help with state and local support, Brown said.
“National people do tend to make appearances,” Brown said. “Gary Johnson ... made an appearance at the Georgia convention in 2012 which ... was also in Athens.” Johnson was the party’s U.S. presidential candidate in 2012 and 2016.
Even though national party members make appearances at state conventions, Ted Metz, chairman of the Libertarian Party of Georgia and Libertarian nominee for Georgia governor in 2018, said the Libertarian Party is mainly set up for autonomous party affiliates.
Both Brown and Metz agreed that ballot access for the Libertarian Party and other third parties is one of the main concerns for the local and state affiliates, but Metz was quick to speak about how little the national party helps its smaller level affiliates.
“We really don’t have that much of a tie at the national level,” Metz said. “We’ve spent years trying to fix our own infrastructure issues.”
Metz added that he has personal goals he wants to see achieved at the convention.
“I want to grow new members while maintaining the ones we have,” Metz said. “I want to see people committing to becoming board members — want to see people commit to growing the party itself.”
One of those new members, Jacob Doster, secretary for the Libertarian Party of Athens, said he didn’t know there was an Athens affiliate for the Libertarian Party until recently, but he knew he had to be involved in some way. He is new to his job working for the party.
“I’m going to go hear some different perspectives,” Doster said regarding the convention. “I have a feeling people are more Libertarian than they think they are.”
As a testament to that theory, Doster said he's bringing his conservative grandfather to the convention to expose him to new ideas.
The convention will last until 5 p.m. on Saturday. Passes are $100 and can be purchased on the Libertarian Party of Georgia’s website.