Marc Montoni

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Marc Montoni
Marc-Montoni 2018.jpg
At-Large
LP Radical Caucus
with Susan Hogarth, James Gholston
2016—2022
Chair
Libertarian Party of Virginia
2001—2002
Predecessor: Dana Johansen
Successor: Marianne Volpe
Secretary
Libertarian Party of Virginia
2006—2016
Predecessor: Charlotte Patrick
Successor: Jacqueline Passey Mason
Personal Details
Education: Virginia Commonwealth University, J. Sargent Reynolds Community College, Lord Fairfax Community College
Residence: Colorado
Party: Libertarian Party
Media
Website: http://FreeVirginia.blogspot.com/
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Marc Montoni is a longtime leader and activist within the Libertarian Party. He is a Life Member who began paying dues in 1980. As a result of an internal prank at the national headquarters, his name on the records is Rabbi Marc Montoni.

He has served at least twice as chair of the Libertarian Party of Virginia (circa 1987 and 2001-2002), as Virginia secretary (circa 1998 and circa 2007 until 2016), on the LNC staff (1989-1993, and as an occasional temp in the 1999-2001 period), as vice-chair in the Libertarian Party of Colorado (2018), and as LNCC database manager.

He has written many guides, such as one for starting up a county or city party from nothing in Virginia and maintains a blog, Free Virginia.

Introduction to the Libertarian Party

Montoni cites a high school friend named Willie Ferguson as his first push towards libertarianism. Montoni described Ferguson as "a full-scholarship-to-Princeton and off-the-scale IQ-holder (as in "MAXED OUT" on IQ tests) high school buddy who handed him a book entitled The Fountainhead while saying, 'Here, Montoni, I think you'll like this.'"

Montoni said the read ultimately prepared him for the five-minute Ed Clark for President campaign commercial the night before the election, 1980.

Montoni subsequently called the number on the screen, "got on the list, never left it".

In the mid-80's, Montoni says he picked Jim Turney's brain for many hours about applied libertarianism; then went a lot further up the scale on his own. He describes himself as "off the scale, now."

Organizing Activities in Virginia

A day after the November 1980 election, Montoni received a call from a woman at Libertarian Party Headquarters in Washington DC in response to his initial phone call to the headquarters information line on election eve, and was referred to the then-chairman of the Virginia affiliate, Jerry Sklute. Montoni phoned Sklute and began showing up for newsletter mailing parties in 1981.

The Virginia affiliate effectively fell apart after an extremely well-attended state convention in 1981, and Montoni concentrated on college, employment, and his American Motors car hobby.

Beginning in about 1983, Montoni started becoming curious as to what had happened to the party he had joined, and began working part-time with fellow Libertarian Turney. As time went on and the ballot drive in Virginia to get David Bergland on the state ballot failed, Montoni began thinking of ways to revive activity. The main choice was to revive the state party newsletter. Later in 1983, Montoni produced his first state party newsletter, with the help of Turney and International Society for Individual Liberty ("ISIL") principal Vince Miller, a Canadian libertarian who was then residing in Montoni's home town of Richmond, VA.

Montoni maintained some connection with the editorship of the newsletter until the last issue he published, which was the January/February 2014 issue.

Ballot Drive Planning

One of the state party policies that Montoni championed for well over three decades was that the state party should set aside money every year to spend during presidential ballot drive years on hiring paid petitioners to help with the drives. Montoni found himself having to argue frequently for saving the money in the face of many demands against the growing funds set aside every cycle. As it turned out, thriftiness paid off every four years -- the Virginia party never had sufficient volunteer signature contributions to make it on the ballot; so hiring professionals turned out to be necessary every time. The state party successfully met the difficult Virginia ballot requirements in every presidential election after 1984.

Patrick Henry Supper Club

After he returned to Richmond full-time from his 1989-1993 LPHQ employment, in 1995, Montoni revamped the "Richmond Libertarians" affiliate. He changed the name of the group's meetings to "Patrick Henry Supper Club". Montoni introduced the group as a project of the "Richmond Metro Libertarians", while emphasizing that it was primarily a social event specifically intended to spur more Libertarian Party activity in the area. Over time he built the group from a half-dozen regulars to a room-filling 25 to 35 in attendance every month. Montoni, with the constant aid and support of Jim Lark, scheduled a variety of speakers, including Jim Lark, Jacob Hornberger, Christopher Horner, Dana Johansen, and many others.

Roanoke Valley Libertarians

Montoni moved from Richmond VA to Salem VA in 1998 to be with his fiancee (and subsequently, spouse), and there formed the Roanoke Valley Libertarian Party or RVLP. The same year, he also called the first few meetings of the "Washington County Libertarians". While the former is still meeting as of 2020, the latter saw sparse attendance at its gatherings and thus eventually evaporated. Also in 1998, Montoni called together a new LP chapter in the City of Martinsville VA. That group also continued for a time but eventually evaporated as well.

Shenandoah County Libertarian Party

In late 2000, Montoni moved with his spouse from Salem, VA to Shenandoah County, VA. He called together the first meeting of the Shenandoah County LP in April of 2001, and served as its chairman until he moved again in 2004.

Tourist Train

One of the successes the Shenandoah LP claimed was a defeat for a group attempting to convince the County to endorse a privately-held tourist train, at a direct cost to Shenandoah taxpayers of > $1 million. The same group had already procured commitments from federal and state agencies of similar grants from the public treasury; the feds promising another $1 million and change and the state promising almost $7 million -- so altogether nearly $10 million in taxpayer funds. Montoni and other Shenandoah County LP members -- notable among them future LPVA Secretary Charlotte Patrick -- began writing a steady stream of letters to the editors of local newspapers and successfully attracted some camera attention from the sole local TV broadcast station, Woodstock's WAZT channel 8. Montoni said that one of the sitting Board members confided to him that "two of [the Supervisors] told me they would probably vote in favor, but all of us feel like we're being railroaded (no pun intended) to approve it". After a month of steady lobbying by Libertarians, when the final vote was taken, it was soundly defeated.

Montoni later said that "the most interesting thing about the project was that others in the community began using our Libertarian phrases in their own letters to the editor and speeches before the Board. One guy even bought radio ads out of his own pocket, and in his one-minute commercials he used the line I'd been hammering early on: 'Tourist trains are not a legitimate function of government'."

Elected to Office

In November 2001, he was elected to public office, serving as one of two elected Directors representing Shenandoah County on the Lord Fairfax Soil and Water Conservation District.[1] Two other Libertarians won seats in the same District in that 2001 election, Matt Medieros and Bill Wood, but both soon resigned. Montoni later nominated Karen Kwiatkowski for a vacant Associate Director seat. She was approved by the Board and served for two years. His Director colleague from Shenandoah County was Ray Brownfield, a Democratic activist.

Montoni served in the office until moving back to Richmond VA in 2004.

LPVA Chairmanship

Montoni served as the chairman of the LPVA for a year in the mid-eighties.

In April of 2001, Montoni was once again elected chair of the Libertarian Party of Virginia and served until March of 2002.

LPVA Secretary

Returning to the LPVA State Committee leadership in 2006, Montoni was elected to replace the retiring Charlotte Patrick. He would retain that seat until he moved from Virginia in late 2016.

Richmond Activity

In 2004, Montoni moved back to Richmond. In October 2005, Montoni, working with Jon Walker, issued the call for the first formal meeting of the City of Richmond Libertarian Party. In June of 2008, Montoni began calling meetings of the Chesterfield County Libertarians. As of 2020, that group is still meeting regularly.

The Patrick Henry Supper Club group during Montoni's time in Richmond was run by a succession of others, such as Greg Lloyd, Jon Walker, and Leonard Harris. Montoni turned his attention towards 7th and 3rd congressional District activity, and also served for a time as the Henrico Libertarian Party vice chair.

At some point in 2009, the Patrick Henry Supper Club ceased meeting and once again Montoni moved to revive it. Developing it back to its previous strength was made difficult by the lack of a cooperative venue with a suitable space.

Rocktown Libertarians

In May of 2010, Montoni moved with his family to Rockingham County, VA (near the City of Harrisonburg). Two months later he called the first meeting of the Rocktown Libertarians, a social group for LP members in the City of Harrisonburg and Rockingham County. The Rocktowners were blessed with frequent attendance by some rather famous Libertarian luminaries, such as Jim Lark, Karen Kwiatkowski, Mark Frazier (who was in attendance at several of the meetings in 1971 and 1972 that formed the US Libertarian Party, and others. In 2013, tragedy struck when one of its frequent visitors, LP member and donor (and Montoni's long-time personal friend) Dr. Harriet Cobb committed suicide. [2]

Resignation from LPVA

On September 24, 2016, pending his upcoming move to Colorado with his family, Montoni said his farewells before the LPVA State Central Committee and resigned all of his positions in the organization he had remained involved with since Election Day, 1980.

Organizing Activities in Colorado

Mesa County

On his third visit to Colorado pending his upcoming move to Grand Junction, in May 2016, Montoni called the first meeting of the Mesa Libertarians, "just to see if anyone was interested". Meeting at the Rockslide Brewery in Grand Junction, one other person showed up and the two enjoyed the political chat.

After moving to Grand Junction permanently in November 2016, Montoni was appointed by the LPCO as the Mesa County contact and assigned to help with creating content for the "Mesa County Development Group". Local meetings began in 2017, and as of November 2020, they are continuing.

LPCO State Activities

Once he and his family moved to their new home in Grand Junction in November 2016, Montoni became further involved. At the state convention in April 2017, Montoni was elected vice chairman of the state party, but soon realized "the 9-hour round trip to attend meetings in person is untenable", and running a meeting as vice chair via video was not practical, so he resigned that seat after a few months.

He later became the chair of the ad-hoc "Welcome Committee", which had the purpose of welcoming new Libertarians with a personal message and a phone call or three.

As of November 2020, he still serves in that capacity.

Libertarian Party Headquarters Employment

In 1989, Montoni became an employee of National Headquarters in Washington DC. He was employed there from 1989 to March 1993.

One of the great pleasures of his employment there was the ability to plan, organize, or attend Libertarian events in the DC area; and one of the cappers for Montoni was organizing several campaign appearances of Andre Marrou in Northern Virginia and DC. As a surprise for Marrou, Montoni hired a limousine to take Marrou to his campaign rally. It was a proud moment for Marrou -- Montoni recounted that Marrou was very emotional when he stepped into the car and that it was the only time anyone had provided him with such a ride during the entire campaign. At the other end of the ride, Montoni made sure his friends were waiting to greet the man who had put his life on hold for Libertarian ideas.

Presidential Elector Candidate

In 1992, Montoni served as the 7th Congressional District Elector for the Andre Marrou and Nancy Lord presidential & vice presidential ticket. [3]

Membership Building and Fundraising

From 1996 to 2016, Montoni worked extensively on building LP membership, citing his record of personally recruiting more than 1200 new or renewal memberships. In 2018 he explained why he stopped in an IPR article entitled Admitting My Error, noting that the Libertarian Party has recruited too many people who don't understand what it means to be libertarian.

Radical Caucus Activity

Montoni is a co-founder of the current Radical Caucus.

In 2006, as a response to the Portland Massacre (the removal of most of the planks of the National Platform), Marc Montoni, Paul Frankel, Susan Hogarth, and Morey Straus formed the Caucus. From 2017 to 2018, Montoni and Susan Hogarth held board seats under the title of "Founder" under the 2017 caucus bylaws. Both were re-elected as those seats converted to at-large. Montoni has served twice as chair of the Radical Caucus under these bylaws (2016 and 2018); and at present (2019) serves as an At-Large director on its national board.

References