Hanford Voters Reject Libertarian Party Takeover

A Libertarian takeover of the Hanford City Council has failed, with voters rejecting a bloc of Libertarian candidates who were hoping to make history in the midterms.

Results from the Nov. 8 election show Amanda Saltray (Area A), Francisco Frank Ramirez (Area B), and Cheyne Strawn (Area E) losing by 41, 4 and 5.5 points respectively. If they had won, four of the five members on the Hanford City Council would have been members of the Libertarian Party, making it the first Libertarian majority City Council in the country. Hanford Mayor Kalish Morrow is a Libertarian as well. 

Our Valley Voice covered the races back in October. Reporter Catherine Doe followed the money. 

Saltray, Ramirez, and Strawn share almost all the same donors. About two thirds of Saltray’s donations and approximately 90% of Ramirez’ and Strawn’s donations come from the Libertarian Party.

The Libertarian Party, and their members nationwide, has donated a total of approximately $27,500 to the three candidates.

Saltray, Ramirez and Strawn’s Fair Political Practices Committee (FPPC) filings are also being handled by the same company, Gold Rush Consulting, a political consulting company owned by Morrow and the Brent Olsen, Chair of the Kings County Libertarian Party.

Brent Olsen was Morrow’s campaign manager when she was elected to the council in 2020.

Gold Rush Consulting is offering their services pro bono in an effort to get their fellow Libertarian Party members elected, said Francisco.

When asked if the three candidates were running as a slate Strawn said, “no, the others are running as a slate against us!”

“The others” being Hanford City Council candidates Paden, Kairis, and Martinez.

Ramirez also accepted donations from local developers, including a $1,000 contribution from developer John Kashian and $500 from the Hanford Mall. 

Ramirez and her fellow Libertarians support liberalized zoning, so those contributions should come as no surprise, Ramirez said. The Libertarian bloc’s opponents — Mark Kairis, Frank Ramirez, and Travis Paden — favor more restrictive zoning measures.

The Hanford elections were one of at least two major losses for Libertarians in California local politics this November. Jeff Hewitt, a supervisor in Southern California’s Riverside County, was also unseated by Moreno Valley Mayor Yxstian Gutierrez.  

These electoral losses sting. But the biggest casualty for Libertarianism may be happening at the national party level.

Libertarians have long been known for their adherence to non-interventionism and Laissez-Faire economics. But one of the underreported political stories of the Trump era has been the Libertarian Party’s devolution into illiberal populism. 

Under the leadership of the Mises Caucus, Libertarian leaders have expressed sympathy for January 6 insurrectionists and posted bizarre and allegedly antisemitic content on Twitter. Social media posts by the official party have called for repealing the Civil Rights Act and the 19th Amendment. Some members of current leadership are openly anti-LGBT — an odd stance for a movement traditionally associated with liberal social philosophies. As a result of the party’s far-right turn, a number of donors and state parties have jumped ship.

There is no evidence that most rank-and-file members, or the local candidates in Hanford, share the views of Mises Caucus leadership. But their sweeping electoral defeat is just another blow to a movement beset by growing extremism and continued irrelevancy.


Comments