Libertarian candidate for governor brings campaign to Unity

Sep. 24—Matt Hackenburg didn't plan to run for governor.

But, he said, when his Libertarian Party nominated him, he decided, "I have a message to spread, and it's my duty to do so."

Hackenburg, 37, an avionics engineer and National Guard veteran from Bangor, favors decriminalizing all drugs and prostitution. He also is a strong supporter of the Second Amendment right to bear arms. Though he personally thinks abortion is wrong, he feels government should not be involved in that issue.

Hackenburg shared his campaign message during a low-key meet-and-greet event Friday evening at Sharky's Cafe in Unity. It had drawn about a dozen people — mostly fellow Libertarian Party candidates and officials — halfway through the two-hour session.

His running mate for lieutenant governor, York County farmer and IT infrastructure analyst Tim McMaster, 48, also was on hand.

Hackenburg said his concern about the government handling of the covid-19 pandemic prompted him to join the Libertarian Party early in 2021. He objected to government policies "forcing people to wear masks" and pledged not to order a "unilateral lockdown" of business and public activities if he is elected.

McMaster said he supports people who choose to wear masks or get vaccinated against covid. But, he said, "Don't treat me like a second-class citizen because I choose not to."

Hackenburg said laws targeting those who use controlled drugs "thwarts people from getting the help they need."

"When people find solace in chemicals and drugs, it's not usually the best solution," he said. "It should be a private matter between people and medical and mental health professionals. It's not something people should be thrown into cages for.

"I don't think the state should have anything to do with what you do with your own body," he said.

"From a personal standpoint, I think abortion is wrong, " he said. "But I don't think there is any effective method to use the state to police it. That's a recipe for disaster, a recipe for abuse."

As for laws limiting access to weapons for those with criminal convictions, Hackenburg said: "I don't believe the state should have any involvement in determining who can or cannot have a firearm. If someone is so dangerous that they can't have a firearm, that person should not be out of prison."

Hackenburg also believes funding of programs has been mismanaged by officials at the state level.

"We should take that spending away from them and return it to the counties and townships," he said. "Those decisions should be taken out of Harrisburg and given back to the people who reap the benefits."

McMaster, who is an elected auditor in Conewago Township, said: "We're very passionate about defending the rights and liberties of people, especially the people we don't agree with. I think that's the true test of whether you believe in liberty."

Jared Miney, 44, of Unity, a Libertarian Party member who attended Friday's session, said he is optimistic about the party's future.

Miney said the major parties recently "gave you the worst two candidates from both parties and expected you to choose the lesser of two evils. The more that happens, the more people are looking for an alternative, which I think (Libertarians) provide."

Pennsylvania's gubernatorial hopefuls include Republican Sen. Doug Mastriano, who has said he supports election integrity, Second Amendment gun rights and elimination of the governor's proposed Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative. He has said he also supports an outright ban on abortion in Pennsylvania with no exceptions.

State Attorney General Josh Shapiro is the Democratic candidate for governor. He has spoken out in support of abortion rights, improved access to health care and investment in infrastructure and job-training initiatives.

Jeff Himler is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Jeff by email at or via Twitter .