Wendy Stolyarov is legislative director of the Libertarian Party of Nevada. We encountered her collecting petition signatures and donations for the nonprofit organization NARAL Pro-Choice America.
Are you from Nevada?
I’m from Texas originally. I was born in Lubbock, but I grew up in Amarillo. I moved out here right after college. … I was a freelance illustrator and graphic designer until this last legislative session. The Libertarian Party picked me up. They wanted somebody local to Carson City, who was fluent with the issues and passionate about making local change. It was actually the first time the Libertarian Party had a full-time lobbyist at the legislature. It was fantastic, actually just going in there, researching bills, testifying on them, lobbying legislators directly.
Who are you here with today?
Today I’m here with NARAL. It used to stand for National Abortion Rights Action League. Now they’re rebranding. NARAL doesn’t really stand for anything, but it’s pro-choice Nevada, pro-choice America. … We’re collecting signatures for the petition that we’re going to send out [to state legislators]. We’re also doing a fundraising drive. Our goal is to collect donations so that we can continue lobbying in the 2019 session. … We’re not like Planned Parenthood. They’re a service provider. We’re a political action group.
How has fundraising been going?
Decently. Our goals are pretty low, but we’ve been exceeding them consistently every day, so that’s good.
And the petition drive?
The response has actually been great. If people oppose us, they tend to just not open their doors. … It’s been pretty great. I’ve had two naked people answer their doors today, which is fantastic.
People love to do that.
One was actually in really good shape. The other one looked like Iggy Pop. But they both signed, so good for them.
Where do you see NARAL overlapping with the Libertarian Party? And what attracted you to the Libertarian Party?
I would say our principle is pro-choice on everything. I know Libertarians have a reputation for being conservative, especially with Ron Paul in 2012. I would say that we’re moving far away from that—far away from that. We’re pro-choice on everything. The Libertarian Party has always been the party of bodily autonomy, and abortion is essentially a bodily autonomy issue for women. It’s a question of whether they own themselves. In terms of NARAL, I’m a strong supporter of abortion as a principle—just because it’s your body, you have a right to control it.
What were some of your legislative goals during the session? …
Our big issues this time around were criminal justice reform, and marijuana issues clearly came up. There were some civil liberties issues that we were able to cover, and some LGBT issues that we were really successful on. We were able to unify a lot with the Democratic legislators—more than in the past.
Would you say that at this point the Libertarian Party is more aligned with Dems or Republicans? Or does it vary issue to issue?
It varies from issue to issue. … We’re pragmatic Libertarians. The Libertarian Party of Nevada is reasonable and moderate compared to some Libertarian parties in the country. And we’re very willing to make compromises. … Being poor is almost illegal in this country. And the poorer you are, the harder it is to get along. … We believe Libertarianism can make life easier for poor people.