Richard Castaldo, a husband, father, and pastor for Grand Lake Life, a Christian ministry serving Grove and Jay, said he is passionate about both faith and politics.

GROVE – Richard Castaldo of Grove was among 14 Oklahomans elected as a national delegate during the Libertarian Party of Oklahoma state convention held in Seminole on March 31.

This will be the first time Castaldo has served as an Oklahoma delegate and his first convention. A recent member of the Libertarian Party, he changed his official party affiliation from registered Republican in November 2017.

Castaldo, a husband, father, and pastor for Grand Lake Life, a Christian ministry serving Grove and Jay, said he is passionate about both faith and politics.

Grand Lake Life which began under what would be considered a traditional church structure realigned its format and purpose this February now identifying simply as a Christian community that gathers for praise and worship through home networks.

"I am extremely passionate about Christ and what it means to be a fully devoted follower and I tend to be a non-traditionalist both in politics and in religion, so the Libertarian Party and doing this new home network churching is kind of pioneering. It's new territory."

Castaldo said he's always had Liberty leanings, being a supporter of Senator Rand Paul and casting his vote for Gary Johnson, the Libertarian candidate for president in 2016.

"I had voted for the Libertarian nominee for president in the 2016 election, Gary Johnson, because I was definitely not a Hillary fan but I also can't stand Trump and a lot of his policies, not just his demeanor. So Gary Johnson was the best third option," he explained.

Castaldo said his vote for Johnson got him more involved in the Libertarian Party and a visit to Grove late last year by Libertarian candidates in the 2018 gubernatorial race, Rex Lawhorn, Chris Powell, and Joe Maldonado is what solidified his choice to switch parties.

"I attended the forum and got to talk to Rex and Chris in particular, and after meeting them and talking about all the issues and studying the platform I decided this is definitely my home," said Castaldo. "The Republican Party has some great people in it but its just another big government party and I'm very small government minded and individual rights. I love seeing a third party option in Oklahoma."

Castaldo is also seeking to run for a seat in Congress for Oklahoma's 2nd District which includes Ottawa and Delaware counties as a Libertarian in the 2018 race with plans for an official announcement Friday, April 13, after completing his candidacy filing.

To learn more about his pending campaign visit http://www.castaldoforcongress.info.

The Libertarian National Convention takes place June 30 to July 3, 2018, at the Hyatt Regency Hotel in New Orleans.

State Convention

At the state convention in Seminole March 31, the Libertarian Party of Oklahoma elected new leadership to its four executive offices of Chair, Vice Chair, Treasurer, and Secretary, as well as 14 delegates to the Libertarian national convention.

Erin Adams of Glencoe was elected Chair. Christina Wright of Oklahoma City was elected Vice Chair. Chad Williams of Choctaw was elected Treasurer, and Traci Baker of Norman was elected Secretary.

Elected national delegates were:

Chet Payne- Tulsa D. Frank Robinson- Bethany David Stewart- Tulsa Erin Adams- Glencoe Gene Bell- Tulsa James Harrison- Moore Joshua Dial- Paul's Valley Mary Margaret Steele- Glencoe Rex Lawhorn- Broken Arrow Richard Castaldo- Grove Robert Murphy- Norman Ron Phillips- OKC Traci Baker- Norman Will Cagle- Bethany

The party also adopted new bylaws and a new state platform at the convention's business meeting, which was chaired by Joshua Smith, who is a candidate for Chair of the Libertarian National Committee.

The party hosted a debate between its three candidates for governor, Joseph Maldonado, Chris Powell, and Rex Lawhorn.

D. Frank Robinson, co-founder of the national Libertarian Party, was also presented with The Founders Award, to celebrate his activism and contributions to the party.

In a press release issued April 2, the Libertarian Party of Oklahoma announced it had voted to officially censure gubernatorial candidate Maldonado AKA Joe Exotic.

The motion rose at the party's state convention with Williams, the newly elected Treasurer of the state party originating the motion, which was seconded by numerous delegates.

The motion read:

"Motion to censure Joe Maldonado for actions which stand opposed to the Non-Aggression Principle."

The non-aggression principle of the Libertarian Party states that one will not initiate force to achieve political or social goals.

In response to a question about the notice of censure posted to the group's official Facebook page April 2, the Libertarian Party of Oklahoma outlined:

"Actions which stand opposed to the Non-Aggression Principle to include:

Defamation's of other candidates Promoting policy which is contrary to platform."

According to the press release, the motion passed with minimal debate, with former Chair Tina Kelley cautioning the body for the precedent it would set.

There were no delegate votes against the censure, however, the press release states numerous delegates did abstain.

Dorothy Ballard is the managing news editor of the Miami News-Record. Email her at dballard@miaminewsrecord.com and follow her on Twitter @dm_ballard.