Friday, June 24, 2016

Mark West -L US House District 1, Arkansas Candidate talks Unemployment, Criminal Justice Reform and More

The following contribution is from Seattle-based independent journalist, David Malekar; who regularly publishes content to the WashCo Chronicle and other online publicationsThe interviewee Mark West, is running for the House - District 1 in Arkansas as a Libertarian.  You can find more information on Mark at the website and follow on Facebook at and twitter at @MarkWest4D1.

Mark West Arkansas Libertarian candidate for House of Reps 2016
Mark West
DM:  Thanks Mark for a sit down with the Liberty Chronicle Independent. Let's get the readers introduced to your background and a little into the position you're running for.

MW:  David, thank you and the Liberty Chronicle Independent for this opportunity to introduce myself to the people of US House District #1 in Arkansas. I am proud to be the Libertarian Party candidate for this office and have loved getting to meet some of the people of this district on the campaign trail.

I'm a pro-life Christian, husband, and father of three. My wife is the school nurse at the local High School. My oldest son is a soon-to-be Sophomore at that High School and loves science. My middle son is the football playing, fishing, hunting type and my littlest is my daughter who is a gymnast with Olympic aspirations.

I've been in bi-vocational ministry as a Southern Baptist for almost two decades and that work has taught me that people matter. For the last nine years, I've been the Corporate Office Manager for a multi-state heavy industrial maintenance and repair company that works on power plants, steel and paper mills. I spent five years in banking before that.

I'm a proud product of AR 1. I was born and raised in West Memphis and graduated from West Memphis High School. My dad worked long, hard hours for an aggregate company in Lehigh while my mom worked various jobs as a secretary. They both sacrificed a lot, hoping that their two sons would have better opportunities for their future.

As I look at my children my hope is to provide them a better opportunity than I've had. Unfortunately, it just isn't there. The size of our Federal Government far outreaches the boundaries laid out in the Constitution.

As I look at our nation is $19 trillion in debt. 100 million people aren't working and Congress can't seem to balance the budget.

As I look at small businesses I see so many struggling to keep people employed and meet bottom lines. They are crumbling under the weight of taxation, regulation and mandate that our Federal Government continues to latch on them while the middle class shrinks and the 1% get more powerful through the creation of debt.

This is why I've decided to run for office. I became "officially" Libertarian in 2013 but had libertarian leanings for several years prior. Love for the Constitution led me to the Libertarian Party but love for Liberty has led me to being consistently libertarian in my lifestyle as well.

I look forward to the next few months of campaigning and presenting the people of AR 1 with a Clear Difference in this election. An opportunity to vote for a real change that Washington needs.

Mark West Arkansas Libertarian candidate for House of Representatives
Mark West
DM:  Let's expand a little more on the pressing issues for your District.  What do you want to address the most in your campaign?

MW: Excellent question! My District is primarily a farming district with a lot of small, family farmers trying to compete with the big corporate farming industry. This struggle highlights a major problem that I believe isn't specific to my district. The problem is corporate welfare. Now, this isn't found only in Federal funding being handed out to the big corporations in projects, funding, etc. but is also found in the legal advantages that big corporations have over small businesses because of the over-regulation of our economy.

Many individual entrepreneurs refuse to deal with the largess of regulation that is involved in starting a business and instead opt to work for a big corporation if they can find work or work in the black economy. We need to make a concerted effort on the Federal level to end the over-regulation and over-reach of the Federal government into small businesses that are killing job creation.

As of the last labor report, nearly 100 million Americans have left the job market. How many of those are retired versus how many would like to return to the job market is unknown. What we do know is that this figure has nearly doubled since President Clinton left office.

I keep hearing from politicians in government how we need to find ways to make the government work. My opponent, Congressman Rick Crawford, essentially implied in a speech that Washington wasn't the problem that we needed to fix the way Washington works.

I whole-heartedly disagree. Washington is working exactly how the politicians, lobbyists and special interests want it to work. It is working to benefit them at the expense of the American people.

Which brings me to the other major issue facing my district which is the manipulation of our currency supply. Paychecks don't go as far as they once did and unfortunately, the powers that be have convinced a lot of us that we must accept inflation as a part of life.

I whole-heartedly disagree with that premise as well. We must begin an exhaustive audit of the Federal Reserve Bank. We must know whom they are lending our tax dollars to and who or what is driving the manipulative monetary policies they impose that are killing the buying power of the U.S. dollar.

We need to bring the coining of our currency back into Congressional authority through the Department of Treasury and open up the economy to other forms of currency which should include barter economics.

Two things keep our government from opening up the economy as far as currency is concerned. The first is the income tax, which is the "mask" of funding our government but instead is funding the second reason which is the interest payments we make to the private-owned Federal Reserve Bank.

Our politicians, including my opponent, have sold the American people to the highest bidders and we need to do something different. One of my campaign goals is to be a debt warrior. I have a few solutions for these problems.

First, we must pass or at least begin acting on a balanced budget. The budget must be balanced with spending cuts alone.

Second, as we start operating on a balanced budget, we will have a surplus that can be used to pay down our debt.

Third, we must install term limits on members of Congress to limit the damage that corruption can play in the political process.

The American public is angry. They either can't get jobs, or if they do have jobs they aren't making enough money to make ends meet because every dollar they make buys less and less every day. Americans deserve something better and something different.

In the northern section of my district, Social Security is also a big issue. A lot of residents in that area are living on Social Security. We have to make drastic efforts to make the trust solvent so that younger people who aren't going to see any Social Security benefit can have the option of finding a different solution for their retirement. Social Security is money that has been extorted from the public and should be paid back to the public with interest.

You can do this by making it a budget priority. If we end our wars of occupation and nation-building we can use some of that defense spending to build up the Social Security trust and make it solvent. We can also use some of that to pay to take care of the Veterans and restructure and reform the VA system. Our veterans deserve better than they are getting right now.

Our government on our behalf sent them off to war. We need to do our part to make them as close to whole as we possibly can and commit ourselves to making LESS veterans in the future.

Mark West Arkansas Libertarian candidate for House of Representatives
Mark West addressing attendees
DM:  People are going to want to contribute to the cause, and help out however they can. What information can you provide as far as links, emails, etc. that people can use to contact your campaign or contribute?

MW:  Certainly! The fastest way to donate is to visit my website and just click the "Donate" button at the top of the page.

Folks can also mail donations to our campaign at:

Mark West for Congress
PO Box 276
Sulphur Rock, AR  72579

Just make sure the check or money order is made out to Mark West for Congress.

The campaign can be reached with calls and texts at 870-613-1496. I would love to hear from everyone who is interested in the campaign.

We also have Facebook which is; Twitter @MarkWest4D1 and Instagram @MarkWest4D1.

Our campaign email is and people can also volunteer through the campaign website at

I've tried to make it as easy as possible for those who are interested in the campaign to link up with us as we look to give voters a clear difference in November.

DM:  We've covered a lot of excellent information so far.  What issue in your area, do you believe has been completely ignored or severely lacking attention?  What can a West administration do for it?

MW:  I think a major issue that doesn't get enough attention in my District is the jobless rate in the black community. We hear a lot about health care, which in Arkansas is called Arkansas Works and we also hear a lot about the Farm Bill every session of Congress. However, we see very little about the jobless crisis that exists in the black community in Arkansas.

Black unemployment in Arkansas is in the double digits which also contributes to a wage gap between the races as well.

I believe several things must happen to begin closing this gap and getting jobs into the black community. First, we've got to get the Federal government out of the way of small businesses and entrepreneurs so that small businesses can grow. Second, we've got to work locally to get investors interested in the black community. This will be the hardest part of the process but should prove to be the most rewarding as long as done correctly. We must work locally through voluntary cooperative programs to build value back into the black communities to attract that investment.

We also need to refocus locally on education but we can't ignore the societal issues that are coming to school with the kids. Black families and communities are crime-ridden and dealing with reform in the criminal justice system will help some of that but reigniting the spark of family identity will also help solve some of those problems as well.

DM:  Criminal Justice reform is a very important issue with millennials.  Many are looking towards Libertarians to bring in this reform and positive change into the system.  Would you be able to give more insight on how this can only be accomplished with a Libertarian ticket?

MW:  In all honesty, the Libertarian ticket is the only ticket that is taking a comprehensive look at criminal justice system reform that empowers the people rather than the State. We can begin by ending the drug war. At the cost of billions of dollars and the innumerable loss of life and liberty we have fought this battle with the plants and the plants are winning.

Take Cannabis for example, there is no logical reason outside of State empowerment and cronyism that it is still illegal in this nation. We are stifling our economy, crippling our communities, and abusing our afflicted by keeping it illegal. Prohibition never works, it just creates expensive and dangerous black markets that are sabotaged by fraud and violence.

Cannabis has a plethora of uses: paper, clothing, plastics, fuel outside of the medicinal and recreational uses that could help our economy make a drastic turn out of this desperate recession by creating wealth and jobs.

Statistics show that 1-out-of-3 blacks wind up in jail. That is a ridiculously high number! Especially when we see the favorable sentencing that many whites and wealthier individuals receive when compared to blacks who've committed the same criminal activities. The Stanford swimmer rape sentence highlights the problems we have in sentencing. I find it hard to believe that a black man would have received a similar sentence and similar compassion from the courts.

We need to end mandatory sentencing and get rid of a lot of the Clinton reforms of the '90s that have led to more black imprisonment. When the State gets involved it seems as though more crime is created rather than corrected. Correctional facilities are nothing more than holding pens that increase recidivism.

Our justice system must transition from punishment for non-violent offenders to treatment.

We must also dispel some myths while we're at it.

The first myth is that legalizing drugs will lead to more users. I'm sorry, but there is simply no logic behind that myth. When prohibition ended, everybody didn't start drinking. Those who wanted to drink would drink. Those who didn't wouldn't. I don't drink and have no desire to drink alcohol. I don't plan to begin using marijuana if it is legalized.

The second myth is that these drugs are just too dangerous for society. Yet, when I hear this I wonder how many of these people have researched the side-effects of all the FDA-legal drugs on the market? That is some scary stuff that will give you literal nightmares!

The third myth is that legalization will lead to more addiction. Has prohibition created less addiction? Has prohibition kept our streets clear of the drugs and the addicts? What legalization will do is clear the pathway for addicts to get treatment. Currently, an addict faces the possibility of becoming a felon before being able to get treatment unless they find a favorable and compassionate judge who prefers treatment-based sentencing. This drives them to keep their addiction in the dark.

We have to roll up our sleeves and be willing to get into communities on a voluntary basis if we really want to see the societal factors change that lead to more crime.

Small businesses creating jobs will also help because less idle hands will be available to do the devil's work so to speak.

We also have to demilitarize and educate our police. Part of that will come with finding means outside of involuntary taxation to fund police departments. We also need to keep the Federal Government out of the local police departments because their involvement helps propagate police-state thinking and the bully mentality we are seeing more of in our police departments. Most police do a good job, but they have to know that they are equally responsible for the bad apples that rise up in their midst so they need solid whistle-blower protections to root out the corruption and bad actors that are hurting the image of the criminal justice system.

Mark West Arkansas Libertarian candidate for House of Representatives
Mark West
DM:  We've covered a lot of important information in this interview.  Readers and voters in your area
will be paying close attention to this election.  We thank you again at the Liberty Chronicle Independent for taking the time to respond to all of these questions.  What final thoughts would you like to leave with everyone reading?

MW:  Thank you so much for the opportunity to interview and share my thoughts and vision for AR 1.

We see on television and in the polls that Americans are desperate for change, for real change. Congress has an approval rating of less than 10% and two-out-of-three voters want to vote for someone other than their current congressman.

The only way to get real change is to do something different. The Republicans and Democrats offer you the same non-solutions with slight variations of things that haven't worked in the past and simply will not work. I'm offering voters in U.S. House District 1, Arkansas the chance to do something different. I want to give them the opportunity at really changing things with solutions that promote individual liberty, responsibility and empowerment.

I want government to work for them. We've worked far too long for a bloated government that continues to grow while restricting our freedom.

Just remember, clear difference, clear direction, clear for Mark West in 2016.