Democrat Art Olivier brings libertarian ideals to Assembly campaign

BELLFLOWER - After spending years as a disillusioned voter, Art Olivier had no plans of entering the political fray himself, but in 1990, the young Bellflower resident launched a State Assembly campaign hoping to challenge the establishment in Sacramento.Under funded and inexperienced, Olivier, then a registered libertarian, lost the election, but the defeat led him to the Bellflower City Council where the maturing politician would claim his greatest victories. Today, the 52-year-old democrat is going door to door, shaking hands and passing out leaflets, hoping his message of less government will attract voters before next month's Democratic primary. "A lot can be done if the government is looking out for the people's interests," said Olivier. "I have a record for looking out for the people. I want to get in here and make a difference in this state." Following his failed attempt at the State Assembly, Olivier ran and won a seat on the Bellflower City Council, which he served on from 1994-1999. Olivier, who was an engineer at Boeing for 20 years, utilized many libertarian principles during his term of office. He privatized several city services, granted city contracts to more affordable, responsible bidders and blocked the use of eminent domain while he was on the Council. "When I was mayor, I eliminated the city's lighting assessment tax," said Olivier. "People say you can't cut taxes and increase services at the same time, but you can do both." After serving his mayoral term on the Council, Olivier campaigned within the Libertarian party and became its vice presidential candidate during the 2000 U.S. presidential election. Along with running mate Harry Browne, the two advocated for smaller, more efficient government, but lost. In 2006, Olivier ran uncontested within the Libertarian party for governor of California. After winning the nomination, Olivier criticized republican candidate Arnold Schwarzenegger for his growing budget, suggesting that the increased spending could one day bankrupt the state. "I was predicting what would happen in 2006," said Olivier, now a democrat. "Taxes would be increased, we would run up deficits and the pension system would become unsustainable." Determined to help reverse these trends in Sacramento, Olivier, who now works as a realtor, is hoping to become the next assemblyman from the 50th Assembly district. If elected, Olivier plans to tackle problems surrounding taxes, state regulations, education and the pension system. He believes these issues all contribute to California's high unemployment rate and recalcitrant economy. "There are people retiring with big pensions right now," said Olivier. "Less people are putting money into the system so the state raises taxes to make up the difference." Olivier maintains that if the pension system continues as is and more government employees retire with large pensions, taxes will increase and the state's budget will continue to inflate. "I can't wait for that to happen," said Olivier. "I'm the only candidate talking about this issue - the other candidates are connected to the unions, they're spending time in Sacramento." If elected, Olivier said he would not support any new taxes and would cut taxes if possible. In addition, Olivier supports the privatization of the corrections system and shorter prison sentences for low-level drug offenders. In terms of the unemployment rate, Olivier believes the number could be reduced if the state embraced more business friendly policies. "There are a lot of regulations out there that keep jobs down," he said. "For instance, the housing industry - there's no way a developer could pay $50,000 in fees and expect to make a profit. They've taken the profit out of building a house." Manufacturing, Olivier said, could return to California if the state rid itself of excessive business and environmental regulations that drive companies away. "Regulations are too stiff here. We've got to go through this," said Olivier. "And find out which laws will spark industry and bring jobs back to California." Although Olivier is running amidst a crowd of democratic contenders, he remains positive that his message of less government and greater accountability will draw voters. "I'm the only candidate not receiving special interest money," said Olivier. "My opponents - their campaigns are focused on fundraising. I'm here, walking the precincts and 90 percent of people agree with me on these issues - it was the way I was elected to the City Council. It's all I can do - appeal to the people."

********** Published: May 21, 2010 - Volume 9 - Issue 5

NewsEric Pierce