After she tried to put on a farmer's market in her hometown of Pueblo, Colorado, Tisha Casida discovered that she had a different set of rules, regulations, licenses, and fees than the city-run farmer's market. When she contacted her city council, county commissioners, and the city manager about the business and growth-strangling discrepancies and didn't even get a single reply, Casida had had enough.
Now Tisha Casida is running as an Independent for the U.S. House of Representatives and I recently had the opportunity to talk with her on the phone about it. During our brief interview, I was absolutely captivated by the depth of her enthusiasm, her principled positions, her common sense policy prescriptions, and her eloquence in articulating and defending them.
Here's what Tisha Casida had to say:
IVN: Tell us about your candidacy. What office are you running for? Which party are you running with?
Tisha Casida: I'm running as an Independent or unaffiliated in the 3rd Congressional District of Colorado for a U.S. House seat that is currently held by Scott Tipton, a Republican who was just elected in 2010. It was previously held by John Salazar who is a Democrat.
IVN: It already sounds like your district might have a bit of an independent streak or might be open to independent ideas. Did Tipton ride the Tea Party wave in 2010?
Tisha Casida: The Tea Party really supported Bob McConnell. Tipton was just the next-in-line establishment pick. The [Republican] Party got him in there. He adopted a lot of McConnell's talking points but if you look at how he's voted, he's not a small government Republican; he's a big government Republican. But yes, we do think there's a lot of independent sentiment in the district that we can rally to win: the Tea Party, the Occupy Wall Street movement, and all voters that feel disenfranchised.
IVN: Tell us a little more about that. Why did you choose to run as an Independent?
Tisha Casida: Because of what happened to McConnell. I know the Republican Party would not have me as a candidate. I've never been embraced by the Republican Party as a young female activist. After I announced, the state chair for the GOP called and encouraged me not to run at all and tried to get me to run in a different district as a Republican, a heavily Democratic district, but that goes against the whole point of running in a district where I grew up and have lived all my life. I don't want the party's support, I want the people's support.
I also want to appeal to both sides of the aisle. The party system has created division with people angry and yelling at each other because of their party affiliation. I'd rather spend time talking to people and winning them over to the side of liberty. I'd rather be independent and not attach a label to myself so I can reach out to anyone. This isn't about party, it's about the future of our country.
IVN: Have there been any special challenges running as an Independent?
Tisha Casida: In Colorado, ballot access for an independent candidate is 800 signatures, which is totally doable. The biggest challenge has been people who are "hard party line" and think that third parties spoil the election for their lesser-of-two-evils candidate. But choosing a lesser of two evils for the past 80 years has left our country in the predicament of having a bunch of evil people in Washington DC. Republicans and Democrats together have sold out the American people with all the legislation they've passed that's unconstitutional and contradictory to the American principles of freedom.
It's unsustainable for us to continue saying that a Republican is better than a Democrat or vice versa. A good person with integrity is better than a bad, dishonest person. We have to get away from the party line and the labels. The labels divide us and that division is what has allowed us to be conquered as a people. Most people will agree with you on two things: don't hurt me, and don't take my stuff. People mostly want the government to leave them alone.
IVN: Have there been any advantages to running as an Independent?
Tisha Casida: Our message, which is in line with the Founders of this country, is resonating so strongly with people who are sick of partisan politics.
IVN: Interesting. Who would you say are some of your political inspirations?
Tisha Casida: I'd like to speak more in detail about our Founding Fathers, but to keep it short: Patrick Henry and Thomas Jefferson are definitely kindred spirits.
IVN: What modern issues matter to you the most and what specific legislative solutions do you propose to address them?
Tisha Casida: First and foremost is the Federal Reserve because it is already bankrupting Americans and it will continue to do so. It's only going to get worse. We need to have a full audit and we need to know where our gold is. That would be the goal. We need more transparency in the Federal Reserve System and we need to get back to a system of sound money. Money is what is controlling us and creating economic slaves out of Americans.
Second is the unconstitutionality of so much legislation that's passed through Congress. Two examples that I'm really concerned about are this recent Defense Authorization Act and the Patriot Act. Those would be a major part of my focus for repealing unconstitutional laws. We need a system of sound money and we need to be able to speak freely without fear of our government.
IVN: What prompted you to run for political office at all?
Tisha Casida: The final straw for me was that I tried to put on a farmer's market here in Pueblo and I had different rules, regulations, fees, and licenses as a privately run market than the publicly run farmer's markets that are in Pueblo. So I had different rules and requirements with the Pueblo County Health Department, the Pueblo Regional Building Department, and the City Sales Tax Department than the city-run, taxpayer-subsidized farmer's market.
I actually calculated how much extra this cost me over the city, and I outlined all of the harm it did to the local economy, then I emailed the city council, the county commissioners, and the city manager, and I got not a single response. At that point, I figured the system is broken. Because I'm not doing anything wrong, I'm trying to help the community, and I'm trying to make money which also helps the community, so you'd think the local government would embrace what I was doing, but I got nothing.
And I am tired of fighting just to live and grow in my community. People should be able to create goods and services and bring them into the market and the government is stifling them. It's inexcusable what's happening to our communities and local economies because of our government. Local economies are being dried up. All of this is because of rules, regulations, licenses, fees, and taxes which stifle you and prevent you from being able to engage in commerce as a small business. It's unsustainable.
IVN: What would you say to other independent-minded citizens who have thought about running, but are worried that it might be too difficult or that they would have no chance of success?
Tisha Casida: I would say never, ever, ever make a decision based on fear because fear is what has been used to control us and stop us and stifle us. Letting go of fear and having faith in yourself is the most important thing you can do for yourself, your community, and for your liberty. People need to stop being afraid of all the things that might happen because unless you try you don't know. If you don't spread your wings and jump off the cliff you'll never know if you can fly, and I'd rather spread my wings and try to fly off a cliff than be backed off a cliff.
IVN: Tell us a little bit more about yourself.
Tisha Casida: I just turned thirty years old. People say I'm young, but I'll say back to them, "What age were you when you first had children?" If you have children you have a lot of responsibility. Two things that qualify people for Congress are to be able to read and understand the Constitution, and secondly to be able to set and stick to a budget. Unfortunately a lot of people are unqualified for Congress at that point. We need new people in Congress. We don' t need people to pass more laws, but have people in there who will not pass new laws that violate the Constitution.
As far as my credentials, I have my Bachelor of Science in Business and a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science. I got my Master's in Business and started a small business called That's Natural. We publish a paper called That's Natural and educate people about what sustainability means, which is things that support and promote your health, the environment, and the free market. Our advertisers are all small businesses. What we do with the paper is educate people about their dollar and encourage people to spend locally, because then your money stays in the local economy.
IVN: Where can our readers find you?
Tisha Casida: Casida2012.com.