Ann Arbor, MI – Long-time libertarian activist and retired attorney David Howard Raaflaub died on September 5th after suffering, for the past few years, from the effects of a stroke. He was a highly involved activist in the Michigan Libertarian Party during the 1980’s, 1990’s, and turn of the century. This was especially true of Washtenaw County where he lived.
Long-time activists can remember his colorful sense of humor and his serial efforts to re-write the Libertarian Party of Michigan (LPM) Bylaws, along with the parliamentary tactics of Tom Jones. Later in life, he redirected his activist spirit to the TEA party movement around 2012, and more recently suffered from the affects of a stroke.
The usual Jones-Raaflaub proposal to restructure the by-laws involves having mail ballots choose party officers to give all Party members the power to elect such officers (and not just the small minority who have the time and money to attend Conventions), having separation of legislative and executive powers to avoid potential tyranny in the party, having proportional representation in the LPM’s legislative body (noting that the party platform calls for proportional representation for the election of public legislative bodies), Having one ballot to elect officers (using Number Voting, 1,2, etc.) and having Party members have the power of initiative (for By-laws amendments and resolutions), the referendum and the recall…
David’s name would pop up in the local press throughout his life, as he took on a number of issues. Perhaps the earliest occasion was in 1972 when he was spokesperson for the University of Michigan Tenant’s Union.
In the March 1988 Michigan Libertarian former Chair Virginia Cropsey reported:
The Ann Arbor News carried an excellent story on the event complete with illustration of Bill Krebaum et al in action. The event sparked such interest from the paper that they did an additional story on the impact the LP might have on the election complete with picture of David Raaflaub conducting his one-man crusade against the city’s obsession with parking tickets as a revenue source (he travels along the street just ahead of the meter maid putting nickels in those meters which are about to expire and leaving a note on the windshield explaining the crusade and asking for donations in lieu of the ticket the motorist would otherwise have found on his windshield).
David served the party in a number of positions including Secretary in 1986, LPM Central Committee in 1988, and Development director in 2006 and 2007.
He ran for office as a Libertarian on a number of occasions. David ran for Second Congressional District Representative in 1988, and in 1991 he ran for Ann Arbor Mayor. He also ran for the Michigan Board of Education in 1994. After this he ran for Michigan Supreme court in 1996, 1998 and 2000. He ran for State Representative in District 54 in 2004 and 2008. In 1990 and 2006 he ran for Michigan State University Trustee.
His last political activities were outside the LPM. In 2010 he ran for the Washtenaw County Commission and did so again in 2012 (with an R after his name). He also organizes a recall effort against state Senator Warren in 2011.
He wore different hats in supporting the LPM. For example, in 1986 he lobbied the legislature to refrain from raising the signature requirements for ballot access. In 1992 he organized a creative attempt to separate the Ann Arbor Ecology Center from the local government by urging libertarians to become members and achieve a voting majority. Much of the effort was motivated by a desire to stop the City of Ann Arbor from weaponizing the center against private businesses like Gelman Sciences. He attempted to join the Ann Arbor government in 1995 as a representative of it’s Fourth Ward.
In the 1994 election cycle he worked with the “John Hancock-We want yours” Committee to restore ballot access, and used his legal skills to push WKAR (a public broadcasting affiliate) into having a more inclusive senatorial debate. In 2000 David helped the Washtenaw LP with legal aid by suing the City of Ann Arbor to put a medical marijuana proposal on the ballot.
He didn’t believe in license requirements for practicing law and involved himself in some civil disobedience.
Many people knew David on a more personal level than those who only saw him at LPM events. One friend, Elizabeth Ann Belcher, commented “David was a good friend. I helped him with petitions for the Libertarian Party at the Ypsilanti Heritage Festival. Also I helped with cleaning and sorting papers in his home after he suffered several strokes.”
Intrepid activist Gregory Creswell said, “From me and my family, I am sad to read of David’s passing. May God bless him, his family, friends, and all those who knew him.”