Trying to get the word out

October 14, 2004

Dave Brooks

It's been a difficult campaign for Norm "Firecracker" Westwell.

Sure he still has his large booming voice that he likes to project

at council meetings, and he doesn't miss a chance to shout hello to a

pack of girls playing volleyball on the beach, but alone he seems a

bit tired on the campaign trail, maybe a little frustrated.

Westwell is making his third run for a council, a principled run


in which he refuses to collect a single dime in outside contributions

for mailers or campaign literature. His only asset so far is the 300

hand-made signs he's created to blanket the town -- and someone has

started stealing those, he says.

To top it off he's also running for two other offices, the Ocean

View School Board and the California Assembly. The campaigns are all

an attempt to build a base for the Libertarian party in Huntington


"The government isn't serving us, we're serving the government,"

he said. "Really, we are the government. Unfortunately there is a lot

of apathy out there and people feeling that their vote doesn't count,

that they have been disenfranchised. I want to encourage people to

get involved."

That includes four other Libertarian candidates he's convinced to

get involved in the race, including Bob Kliewer, who plans to make a

serious run for office in 2006.

"I actually help my opponents," he said. "How many other

candidates do that?"

Of course Westwell wants to win a seat, he said, but his campaigns

are really aimed at encouraging Huntington Beach to limit the size of

its government and reduce the amount the amount of money it allocates

to social services.

"I don't think we have a revenue problem, I think we have a

spending problem," he said.

His prominence locally as an outspoken Libertarian makes him a

natural for political office, but if someone better qualified stepped

forward, he would support that person.

"I'm not the quintessential candidate," he said. "If I found

someone better, I would step back and support that person, but a lot

of people have asked me to run."

Westwell got his nickname Firecracker after petitioning the

council to legalize "safe and sane" fireworks that are sold by youth

groups in surrounding cities.

"We don't want protection from ourselves, we want freedom," he

said. "Liberty is the ability to make our own decisions. I'm not

going to go in their making new laws banning this and that. I'm going

to dismantle them."

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