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Planned obsolescence: one man shrinks government.

IN JANUARY Ed Hamilton, a 77-year-old real estate agent, announced his candidacy for treasurer of Kerr County, Texas, challenging the incumbent Republican Mindy Williams. Hamilton, also a Republican, has thus far run a fairly spartan campaign; he doesn't have a flashy website, although he recently started a blog ("those don't cost anything," he notes). It's far too expensive, and too much effort, to print and hang campaign posters, although Hamilton promises to deliver a handful of rousing stump speeches.

If it seems that Hamilton doesn't really want the treasurer job, it's probably because he doesn't. Hamilton is running for treasurer on a very simple platform: "If elected, I'll start the process to eliminate the election of the office on my very first day," he says. "And I won't take any pay." Indeed, he promises to push an amendment to the Texas Constitution eliminating the position entirely.

According to Hamilton, the office costs Kerr County (population: 47,000) $122,000 a year, including the treasurer's $45,000 salary. That's not exactly a princely sum. But 245 of Texas's 354 counties have elected treasurers, and if the positions were eliminated statewide it would save Texas about $15 million a year.

"For 25 years I've been asking why we in Kerr County elect a treasurer, when we don't elect municipal, state, or federal treasurers," says Hamilton. Besides, he grumbles, the office duplicates tasks currently performed by the county auditor, has no power to make policy decisions, and cannot allocate funds. "It's hugely inefficient," he says.

So what does he make of his chances? "I did an informal poll, and 73 of 100 people backed me, and 10 were undecided," he says. But once those undecided voters understand the absurdity of the office, he argues, they'll vote for Ed Hamilton, with the express purpose of firing Ed Hamilton.

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Title Annotation:Ed Hamilton's political candidacy for Kerr County's treasurer post
Author:Moynihan, Michael C.
Publication:Reason
Article Type:Brief article
Geographic Code:1U7TX
Date:May 1, 2008
Words:306
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