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Features

The Local Man Who Would Be The Governor

Although “Governor Cooper” has a nice ring, it is very doubtful that those words will be on any New Yorker’s lips come November. But that’s not going to shake Westbury’s Richard Cooper from his quest. He is determined to run as the Libertarian Party’s candidate for governor.

“Voters will have a choice,” said the 57-year-old Cooper, who works as a vice president at his family’s manufacturing company in Westbury. “All of the other parties are parties of big government.”

And if there is one thing the Libertarians believe in, it’s small government. As the national Libertarian Party puts it:

“Libertarians strongly oppose any government interfering in their personal, family and business decisions. Essentially, we believe all Americans should be free to live their lives and pursue their interests as they see fit as long as they do no harm to another. In a nutshell, we are advocates for a smaller government, lower taxes and more freedom.”

These principles have guided Cooper for years. From an ill-fated 1997 run for Nassau County Comptroller (“I received 1,652 votes”), to fighting to keep the Town of North Hempstead from using eminent domain to level a New Cassel church, to his war against public funding of Charles Wang’s plan to redevelop the Nassau County Veteran’s Memorial Coliseum, to various battles against eminent domain and the use of taxpayer money to boost private businesses, Cooper is, as he puts it, working to “free New Yorkers from the Empire State.”

“Every major crime in our time is done in the name of the public good,” said Cooper, who holds a history degree from Columbia University, and has a tendency to take a conversation deep into the finer points of politics, policy and procedure.

In this case, that’s not a bad thing, since it is one of the finer points of election law that is propelling Cooper’s campaign.

“My objective is to get 50,000 votes for governor,” he said.

That would not just give him bragging rights, but also would put the Libertarian Party on the state ballot for years to come.

The Libertarians would join the Green, Working Families, Independence and Conservative parties, as well as the Democrats and Republicans, as “official,” ballot-worthy parties. That would make it easier for them to field candidates for numerous offices, and, of course, underscore the legitimacy of the Libertarian cause.

As Cooper sees it, the Libertarians are like nothing else on the ballot.

“There is negligible difference between the Republicans and the Democrats,” he said.

What about Conservatives?

“I’m for freedom for everyone,” said Cooper. “The Conservative message is freedom for people like them.”

Right now, Cooper admits, the state party has “fewer than 500 dues-paying members” and not quite 5,000 voters registered as Libertarian. But he’s hopeful that 50,000 voters will be convinced by his media campaign (“Enough to be noticeable, not enough to be ridiculous”), as well as his stand on the issues. For instance:

• Eminent domain. “It is legalized theft.”

• Marijuana. “It should be legal.”

• Subsidized stadiums. “I’m against all taxpayer funded professional sports. Let’s separate sports from state.”

• Government spending. “The whole budget is vote-buying.”

• Gun control. “If you are not barred from having a gun, why do you need their [the licensing authority’s] discretion?”

• Privacy. “People talk about keeping the government out of your bedroom. Well, they can’t keep them out of your wallet.”

While Cooper has very strong views on many controversial issues, he hasn’t taken a position on two Long Island hot-button issues, red-light cameras and Canadian geese.

“I have a full platter,” he said.

With his website, www.cooperforgov.com, bursting with information about the candidate, now, all he needs is the official nod from his party at their April 26 convention in Albany.

“I’m going to have some fun during this campaign, saying what I think.”

John Owens is editor in chief of Anton Community Newspapers. Email: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it