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Friday, December 7, 2018

Libertarian Jeff Hewitt Wins Seat on Riverside County Board of Supervisors

By: Matt Welch

The L.P.’s biggest 2018 winner wants to tackle California’s public sector pension crisis head-on.

Jeff Hewitt, the Libertarian mayor of tiny Calimesa, California, has narrowly won a seat on the Riverside County Board of Supervisors, the Riverside County Registrar of Voters announced early this morning.

The 65-year-old supervisor-elect, best known for booting out the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (Cal Fire) from Calimesa and replacing it with a cheaper, city-owned department, squeaked past former GOP assemblyman Russ Bogh, 51.9 percent to 48.1 percent. Hewitt won despite being heavily outfundraised, with Bogh's chief sources of money coming from public sector unions, and Hewitt pulling cash from state and national libertarians, including California tomato-industry giant (and Reason Foundation Board of Trustees member) Chris Rufer.

"I raised $550,000 total, and he raised $1.1 million total, so he out-raised me two to one," an exultant Hewitt told me yesterday. "However, he outspent me nearly three to one between the primary and the general election, so that in itself is amazing. There is no one in this area that thought I was going to be the winner."

The seat, like Hewitt's mayoral post, is nonpartisan, though his party affiliation is nobody's secret, sitting as he does on the Libertarian National Committee. In a fundraising email sent Wednesday, L.P. National Chair Nicholas Sarwark characterized the prospect of a Hewitt victory as a "mega-win."

Riverside is the 11th most populous county in the United States, with 2.4 million-plus inhabitants, or more than West Virginia and Wyoming combined. Hewitt, whose district includes the cities of Moreno Valley, Menifee, and Perris, is one of five supervisors overseeing an annual budget of $5.5 billion. The county's precarious finances took a massive hit in the 2008-09 financial crisis, and continue to groan under the weight of public sector pension obligations and contract negotiations between elected officials and the unions that support them.

Read more at Reason.