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Taking Liberties

In Ward 3, a third-party candidate offers 'a little more straight talk.'

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When Libertarian Jonathan Hoffman started planning his Ward 3 City Council campaign late last year, he thought he'd be the only candidate facing incumbent Councilman Jerry Anderson.

Hoffman, a 47-year-old salesman at Summit Hut, had angled his platform of limited government to starkly contrast with Anderson's left-leaning tendencies. But when Anderson decided to retire rather than seek a second term, Hoffman found himself in the midst of a crowded field.

"The original concept was to run against Mr. Anderson and nobody else," Hoffman said back in June, "and now it's not Mr. Anderson and everybody else."

The field has since narrowed to just Hoffman, Democrat Paula Aboud and Republican Kathleen Dunbar on the November 6 general election ballot. (Democrat Vicki Hart lost the September primary, while Green Party candidate Ted O'Neill, saying he feared "negative" consequences should his candidacy help Dunbar win office, dropped out of the race last month.)

Hoffman holds out a slim ray of hope for his campaign, but he's aware he's a long shot. His slim chances make it possible for him to run a remarkably pander-free campaign. "We offer a little more straight talk and not telling people what they want to hear and dodging so much," Hoffman says.

Hoffman's campaign has been overshadowed by the aggressive bantering between Aboud and Dunbar. A recent debate degenerated into material for America's Funniest Home Videos when Aboud, complaining of an amateur videographer in the crowd, began covering her face with papers while she responded to questions, while Dunbar got mad enough to threaten to sue her Democratic opponent.

With that kind of floor show, the Libertarian is having a hard time getting much attention. But he suggests that despite all their bickering, both his opponents are big-government types compared to him.

"Frankly, I don't think there's a huge difference between Republicans and Democrats and that's why a lot of the electorate is somewhat disenchanted," Hoffman says. "My candidacy will offer an alternative to business as usual."

Hoffman delivers on that campaign promise. He'd slash city government back to providing the essentials: police patrols, fire protection, road building and garbage collection. "I'll even go as far as to say city parks," he says.

Otherwise, he's swinging the budget axe. "They should get out of social engineering, funding for the arts, funding for non-profits and charities," Hoffman says. No more dollars for the Temple of Music and Art or domestic violence shelters. If they can't make it in the private sector through profit or charitable contribution, the government has no business "taking money at gunpoint" to subsidize them.

The cuts would free up dollars for projects such as an east-west freeway "that people will actually use"--unlike, say, the Barraza-Aviation Parkway, which carries about as much traffic as Tucson Boulevard does as it winds through the Sam Hughes neighborhood.

Hoffman says the people of Tucson have chosen cars as their preferred method of transportation. City government should respond to that reality by building more efficient roads. While he sees the current bus system as a necessary charity, he scoffs at the notion of expanding it or building light rail.

"My big fear, transportation-wise, is we may end up like Portland, Ore., where we sort of turn over our lives and our rights and our future to some sort of Politburo which will plan our lives for us," Hoffman says.

Hoffman opposes just about every recent move the council has made. He's against the big-box ordinance, the living-wage policy that requires companies that contract with the city to pay employees at least $8 an hour, and the ban on smoking in restaurants. "I think it's insane that the city government would take it upon itself to ban a legal activity on private property," he says.

He's outraged by the council's effort to impose background checks on all firearm sales at Tucson Convention Center gun shows in the face of state law. Along with ending what he calls "the gun war against Pat McMahon," he'd push to reverse the "chickenshit" regulations banning guns in public buildings and city parks. These ordinances, he says, are designed to make it so "nobody can move around with a gun in their possession."

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