Student seeks seat in Ohio’s 44th District

Nick Glunt

Daughter fuels his pursuit of office.

Kurt Liston is a student running for office under a Libertarian platform. However, he knows many of his potential voters aren’t sure what his party ideals actually are.


“I’m not a politician or anything,” Liston said. “I’m just a guy, you know, who just wants to stand up for my rights first and everyone else’s second.” By focusing on his own rights, Liston said he encourages others to defend their rights as well.


Liston, 32, lives in Akron with his wife and 2-year-old daughter. He has almost completed his studies for an associate degree in horticulture. Though he has been interested in politics since he was a child, he said his daughter is what spurs his cause.


“I want her to not have to deal with half this crap we have to deal with now,” he said.


Liston is attempting to win a seat in the Ohio House of Representatives. He is the Libertarian candidate for Ohio’s 44th District, which includes mostly the Akron area.


Liston’s campaign manager Nicholas Burdohan said Libertarians believe the current hierarchy of government is backwards.


Burdohan explained that in the current system, most of the government’s power lies at the federal level, and the amount of power becomes lower and lower at the state, city and individual levels.


“It’s inverted,” he said, “and we’d like to see it get back to the way it should be.”


The most power in government, Burdohan said, should lie in the individual, with the least amount at the federal level.


Policies that come with Libertarianism, Burdohan said, include personal responsibility, avoiding war, decreasing taxes, stopping the War on Drugs and eliminating all discrimination.


Liston describes himself as a “100 percent diehard Libertarian.” He said Libertarians are more moderate, as opposed to liberal or conservative.


“I used to be a very staunch Republican,” Liston said. He said after the Bush administration’s Patriot Act, “bells and whistles started going off.” He began researching third-parties and eventually settled on Libertarianism.


Just as Liston discovered the party, he said others are as well. He attributes the growing number of Libertarians to a growing need for change. Unneeded war, high taxes and discrimination against the gay population are just some of these problems, he said.


Yet, Liston said, few Americans genuinely care. He admitted he was once one of those people, until he started to educate himself.


“I still don’t know why we’re not rioting in the streets over the Federal Reserve,” he said. “I mean, it just drives me crazy.”


Liston said one of his biggest goals is to get more youth involved in politics.


Among Liston’s supporters is Jim Traficant, who appeared at Liston’s first fundraiser at Akron’s Tangier Banquet and Party Center Tuesday night.


“The thing I like about Traficant is he tells you exactly what he’s thinking, and he’s not afraid to say it,” Liston said. “And he’s obviously made enemies because of it, but he’s not willing to back down. And I think anyone who’s willing to, you know, stand up for what you believe in, you have to do that.”


Even with Traficant on their side, Burdohan said winning the election will not be easy. However, he said he wouldn’t be wasting his time if there wasn’t a chance.


Burdohan said he believed the most votes a Libertarian candidate earned in an election was below 5 percent. He said it would be great if they could “break into the double digits” with votes for Liston.


Some of the problem, Burdohan said, is that all third-party candidates used to be listed on voting ballots as independent. The Libertarian Party sued the state in order to get ballot access. This means third-party candidates can now be listed on ballots as Libertarian, Socialist, Green or whatever party they affiliate with.


“Never before has a Libertarian been elected to a state office in Ohio,” Liston said. “We’re trying to make history.”


Contact student politics reporter Nick Glunt at [email protected].