As early voting commences, Libertarian gubernatorial candidate Vinnie Vineyard stopped in Cleveland to discuss issues he believes affect everyone, and why a third option on a ballot is a step in the …
As early voting commences, Libertarian gubernatorial candidate Vinnie Vineyard stopped in Cleveland to discuss issues he believes affect everyone, and why a third option on a ballot is a step in the right direction.
Originally from the projects of Baltimore, Vineyard has lived in Tennessee for most of his life and describes himself as more of a Tennessean than anything else.
“I’ve had 40 occupations, and that’s one of the reasons I believe I’d be an ideal candidate for governor,” Vineyard said. “There’s an old saying from one of my previous occupations that goes, ‘I’ve dined with kings and queens and slept in alleys and ate pork and beans,’ so I’ve definitely seen numerous aspects of life.”
Having worked at a Fortune 500 company, but also as a professional musician, drug and alcohol counselor, wrestler, youth minister, office assistant, TV show host and butcher, Vineyard is no stranger to various jobs. He currently owns his own taxi company known as FunkMaster V’s Uptown Cabs of Renown, which operates in Sevier County. In 2014, he ran for House District 13 for Knoxville as well.
Vineyard believes his background working with the public affords him a strong foundation. Prior to living in Pigeon Forge, he worked at a youth ministry called Powerhouse in Knoxville. He later worked with the homeless populations as a drug and alcohol counselor for Knox Area Rescue Ministries.
“I also worked for the Peace Corps and Americorps, so when the 2016 Gatlinburg fires occurred, I went in and helped save around 10 or 12 lives,” Vineyard said. “The fires are still affecting people to this day, but following the fires, I went around with my cab company giving people rides for free to help out.”
When not running for office, Vineyard is also a "professional ghost hunter," and is featured on the ASY-TV show “Wrestling with Ghosts.”
Although there are numerous Libertarian candidates on the ballot, Vineyard considers his race a chance to outline for Tennessee residents exactly how biased the voting system is against independent candidates.
“I’m a Libertarian, and the main reason for that is there is a ballot access issue in Tennessee which is horrible,” he said. “To run as an independent, Democrat or Republican, you only need 25 signatures on a petition. If you want to identify as a Libertarian, green party, reform, constitutionalist, democratic socialist, what have you, you’ve got to have 33,844 signatures. It took me five hours just to get 37.”
He said this requirement creates a conglomeration of independents at the bottom, where candidates remain unknown by the public. Since most voters don’t have time to research each candidate, many of them remain unnoticed. Vineyard is in a group of 19 other Libertarians, called the Tennessee 20, who are running to create awareness of these unjust regulations that go against the state constitution. They are currently suing the state for these grievances.
“The state of Tennessee keeps moving the goal post. Once we make a certain checkpoint, they move it up. It’s ridiculous,” he added.
Prior to running as a Libertarian, Vineyard was a Democrat. He eventually became disillusioned with the party and became a Republican.
“After being a Republican for awhile, I realized they were no different than the Democrats. I heard the ‘gospel of Ron Paul’ (a noted Liberteand realized that wars for profit are evil, crony capitalism is evil and people should be free to do what they want with their own bodies,” he said. “The government needs to get their hands out of our pockets.”
Running his own podcast, Vineyard often battles democratic socialists, who do agree with him on certain issues, but want a much larger government which is able to deliver all the “handouts” they believe they are entitled to. As a Libertarian, Vineyard believes in a smaller government with less power. He states how big business is running America, not the American people.
“Socialism will never work, because people are flawed. People suck, we aren’t robots, so that method of thinking will never succeed,” he added. “Some people claim to be Libertarians because they voted for Bernie, and I have to tell them he’s a socialist and not Libertarian. We agree on a few things, but differ immensely.”
When asked about the issues facing Tennessee, Vineyard stressed the importance of affordable healthcare and the legalization of marijuana. He cited a friend of his who had recently passed away in her thirties as a reason for healthcare reform. Making a true free market, where Americans could purchase items like insulin from foreign countries like Canada or France, was also on the to-do list, as this would drive prices down exponentially in America, and allow everyday people to afford their life-saving prescriptions.
“If we legalized marijuana, it would turn these young people who are being stigmatized for selling it into young business owners. This would foster competition and drive their own prices down and also lower the cost of normal pharmaceuticals at the same time,” Vineyard said. “Marijuana also helps those with Parkinson’s, cancer and epilepsy. Our jails are filled with these one-time pot sellers when they should be filled with pedophiles and sex offenders. I know for a fact that some of those very people weren’t arrested because there wasn’t room in the local jail.”
Vineyard referenced Diane Black as a true advocate of big business who is fighting tooth and nail to stop the legalization of the plant. Since Black’s husband works for a larger pharmaceutical company, they would see a drop in business should marijuana become legal, and thus, would never legalize it for the greater good.
Describing himself as a weird Libertarian, Vineyard doesn’t smoke marijuana, doesn’t own a gun and doesn’t drink or do drugs.
“People would definitely be a lot chiller if that passed though,” he said. “I hope that people see how a Libertarian option provides a completely different way of thinking that’s not so black and white as Republicans and Democrats make it.”
For more information on Vineyard, or how to get a ride from FunkMaster V check out his website at www.believeinthefunk.com. Early voting has already begun.
Print subscribers have FREE access to clevelandbanner.com by registering HERE
Non-subscribers have limited monthly access to local stories, but have options to subscribe to print, web or electronic editions by clicking HERE
We are sorry but you have reached the maximum number of free local stories for this month. If you have a website account here, please click HERE to log in for continued access.
If you are a print subscriber but do not have an account here, click HERE to create a website account to gain unlimited free access.
Non-subscribers may gain access by subscribing to any of our print or electronic subscriptions HERE