By Greg Stempfle
Three 2019 Defender of Liberty Awards were given to deserving candidates after the close of convention business.
The 2019 Promoter of Liberty Award was given to Lisa Lane Gioia
This award is given to a Libertarian activist whose efforts have done the most to promote the LP and Libertarian principles. Gioia, of Oakland County, was nominated by Greg Stempfle for her willingness to run as our attorney general candidate in 2018. Below is an excerpt from her nomination statement:
As the 2018 fall convention arrived, no Libertarian had yet to step up and run for Michigan Attorney General. The LPM had candidates for all statewide races that we would nominate, except this one. Once it was confirmed that Michigan election law does not require the Attorney General to be a lawyer, Lisa Lane Gioia volunteered to be our nominee. By doing so, Lisa put herself under public scrutiny and faced more criticism than most third-party candidates normally receive. She quickly familiarized herself with the responsibilities of the office and began engaging the media the next week. There were some occasions that I was on the phone with Lisa, late into the night, helping to craft a libertarian message and answer candidate questionnaires. Despite her lack of a legal background, she accepted the difficult challenge of becoming a credible candidate.
In an article published in MIRS Capital Confidential entitled, “2 of 5 Attorney General Candidates Aren’t Attorney’s” the writer states, “Gioia doesn’t have a law degree even though she’s been nominated by the Libertarian Party to be the candidate for that office. The West Bloomfield resident owns her old freelance translation business, translating English to Japanese for an intellectual property law firm.” I believe the author is implying that while Lisa may not be an attorney, she’s clearly intelligent enough to be one and has the necessary skills to navigate complex legal systems.
Prior to her run for Attorney General, Lisa campaigned for US Congress in 2016. It should be also be noted that she serves on the LPM Membership Committee handling new member inquires, was the 2017 LPM Platform chair, and is Development Director for the Libertarian Party of Oakland County. A Lisa also does an excellent job of representing and promoting the party to the news media.
Lisa is always outgoing, friendly, and welcoming to new and potential members, whether in correspondence or face to face. In an organization often full of introverts, Lisa’s extroversion, and passion for liberty, have always helped the party to grow.
The 2019 Producer of Liberty Award was given to Dianne and Randolph “Randy” Szabla
This award is given to a dedicated, behind-the-scenes, activist whose quiet labors over the years exemplifies the backbone of the LP. Diane and Randy, also of Oakland County, were co-nominated by Greg Stempfle and former LPM Chair Brian Wright, for their state party activism dating back to at least 1976. Below is an excerpt from their nomination statement:
I have only known Dianne and Randy personally for a few years now, since becoming active in Oakland County affiliate, but I knew of them long before. Dianne and Randy’s names would frequently appear in newsletters for helping the party with various behind the scenes activities and responsibilities.
By way of supporting this nomination I submit the following which I found through careful search party archives. This list covers merely some of their accomplishments in the party over the years, and while accurate is almost certainly incomplete.”
Active members with the LPM since the 1970s.
Both Dianne and Randy were Presidential electors for the LPM in 1980.
Both Dianne and Randy are among those listed on the “Michigan Liberty Honor Roll” as having “contributed in concrete fashion to the LPM’s successful ballot drive”, in the February 1980 Michigan Libertarian.
Randy has campaigned for public office as a Libertarian on at least four occasions. These campaigns include; State Representative in 1976, 1980, and 1982, and additionally for Wayne State Board of Governors in 1988.
Dianne has campaigned for public office as a Libertarian twice; in 1982 for Oakland County Commissioner and in 1988 for MSU Board of Trustees.
Dianne has been Treasurer of the LP of Oakland County for many years; serving on multiple occasions since 1993 (probably longer).
Dianne and Randy have graciously hosted an LPM holiday party at their house for many years.
As a co-nominator Brian Wright recounted his college days at Wayne State with Randy where together they ran the Wayne State Students for Objectivism. He recounted early ballot access petition drives and working on the Ed Clark for President campaign. Read Brian’s article about this nomination at his blog here:
The 2019 Spokesperson for Liberty Award was given to Kevin Dietz
This award is given to a member of the community whose patriotism and conviction have inspired contributions to the cause of Liberty. Here is an excerpt from the nomination statement given.
Kevin Dietz, a television reporter with channel 4 WDIV in Detroit, was given the award for his relentless coverage of the plight of Rick Wershe (BKA White Boy Rick). Here is an excerpt from the nomination statement by Scotty Boman:
I nominate Kevin Dietz for his relentless coverage of the plight of Rick Wershe (BKA White Boy Rick).Rick Wershe had been serving a sentence of life without parole for a “victimless” crime (selling of prohibited substances) since the 1980’s.Because Dietz kept the spotlight on this case, a movie, documentary and a book about Wershe were also created. Eventually efforts to commute Wershe’s sentence were able to get traction until he was finally released on those charges (Wershe ended up being extradited to Florida on other charges, but he is now eligible for parole there ).