Michael E. Arth announces candidacy for Florida Governor
June 4, 2009 – Tallahassee, FL
Michael E. Arth, an urban designer and policy analyst, announced today that he is running for the Governor of Florida on the Democratic ticket. At his campaign website www.michaelearth.org, Arth laid out a platform that challenges many of the current assumptions about how to handle a broad range of social, economic and environmental issues. His campaign slogan is “Bringing the future to Florida.”
In 2001 Michael and his wife Maya moved to DeLand, Florida from Santa Barbara, California. He bought 32 homes and businesses in a former drug slum, ran out the local gang and various drug dealers, and remade what was called “Cracktown” into Downtown DeLand's Historic Garden District. Their daughter was born at home in a renovated house that – only six months earlier – had been operating as Volusia County's most notorious crack house. For this project, which appears to have lowered DeLand's crime rate by 11%, the City of DeLand and the County of Volusia named November 12, 2002 “Michael Arth Day.” A year later Arth also received a Community Enhancement Award from the City of DeLand, and other honors.
In recent years Arth has lobbied to end the War on Drugs saying, “It is a war on the poor that ultimately harms everyone.” He also launched a major cost–reducing effort to build a prototypical “Village for the Homeless” The full service community, which would consolidate what he calls “the scattered and ineffective homeless and drug rehabilitation services,” would serve as an alternative model for reducing the number of mentally ill, substance abusers, and non–violent offenders who would otherwise end up in jail or cause problems on the streets. He points out that Florida has the fastest growing prison system within a country that has the highest incarceration rate in the world. Florida has an incarceration rate that is 8 times higher than Canada and more than 25 times higher than India. “Deinstitutionalization of the mentally ill began in 1955. The drug war began in 1971. Mandatory sentencing laws were enacted in 1986. As a result, our prisons have turned into asylums and gulags where we try to hide away the victims of failed social policies,” Arth said. “Despite locking up 24% of the world's prisoners in a country that only has 4.5% of the world's people, we still have the highest violent crime rates of any industrialized country.”
“I would characterizes myself as independently minded reformer who is a fiscal conservative, a libertarian on social issues, and a liberal in regards social economics, human rights, prison reform, foreign affairs, the environment, urbanism, transparency, and the regulation of financial markets. As a policy analyst I constantly study future developments as they relate to all the issues. Both state and federal politics would benefit from true campaign finance reform, instant runoff voting, and proportional representation in order to prevent vote buying, spoilers, redistricting fights over gerrymandered districts, and swing voters. These reforms would bring in fresh ideas and issues-driven candidates that might not fit into either party. For better or worse, reform has to come from within, and sincere candidates within the Democratic tent are best positioned to make this happen. Even though this might weaken the two parties it would strengthen our political system and make it more representative.”
Arth is also a well–known artist. A large format book of his art, Michael E. Arth: Introspective 1972-1982, was published in 1983. An award–winning documentary feature film, New Urban Cowboy: Toward a New Pedestrianism, mostly about his work as an urban designer, was released in 2008. A two–volume book in which Arth takes on the world's problems, The Labors of Hercules: Modern Solutions to 12 Herculean Problems, is being published in 2009.