Democrat Eric Kurland described his reasons and goals for seeking one of the LD 23 State House seats from orthodox conservatives John Kavanagh and Jay Lawrence.
Over breakfast at the Scottsdale restaurant Randy’s (very good food and service) at Chaparral and Hayden, he said he was motivated by his advocacy for children and the misdirection of our Dark-Money-serving Republican state leaders in promoting private school vouchers rather than fully funding public education, Kurland, an educator with the Scottsdale Unified School District, has launched a campaign, fueled by his army of education supporters, emphasizing education, campaign finance reform, and reforming the private prison system.
A legislative district that encompasses all or parts of Scottsdale, Fountain Hills, Paradise Valley, and Rio Verde, there has not been a Democratic representative from LD 23 in recent years. Eager to break that trend, Kurland will be running for one of two state house seats against incumbent State Representative Jay Lawrence and Senate Pro Tempore John Kavanagh.
Kurland feels that both Lawrence and Kavanagh are on the “opposite end” of what the people who elected them want, living in “an ivory tower who do not feel the pulse of what a community requires.” If elected, Kurland states, that unlike his opponents, “it will not be the last time they (the people) will hear from him.”
Who is Eric Kurland?
A native of New York, who moved out to Arizona as a college student to Arizona State University in 1989, Kurland has always wanted to be a “guiding hand” in helping children. A husband and father, he has served as an educator in the Scottsdale Unified District in a variety of roles ranging from instructor to Administrator of Alternative Education to K-8 Behavior Intervention. He has also held the Presidency of the Scottsdale Education Association, acquiring valuable experience that will be needed in negotiating with fellow colleagues in the State Legislature.
The drive to run for the State Legislature has been building for several years for Kurland, perhaps starting in 2007 and 2008 when the original March for Schools Movement successfully lobbied the state legislature for greater education funding. This motivation further increased when John Kavanagh authored a bill in the State Legislature that undercut the teacher’s unions by stating their dues could no longer be deducted from their paychecks. The Republican zeal to promote school choice through voucher expansion, which Kurland calls “welfare for the wealthy,” was the final factor that propelled Kurland to run for the State House in 2018, calling this election a referendum on the future of public education.
Kurland sees himself as a centrist problem solver who, unlike his opponents, will empathize with and listen to the people and fight for what they want.
Education is the number one issue
If elected to one of the LD 23 State House seats, Kurland will be a fierce proponent for public education arguing that this election will be a referendum on the future for public education with the Democrats, whom Kurland represents, as “the party of we and tomorrow” versus the Republicans, served by Kavanagh and Lawrence, the “the party of me and today.”
He believes, like the aspirants in the Red for Ed movement, in fully funding public education. He would accomplish this by:
- Passing the Invest in Ed Ballot Initiative.
- Roll back some of the phased-in corporate tax cuts signed by Former Governor Brewer.
- Ridding many of the state tax credits, particularly those that fund private school voucher tuition, which should raise $200 million.
- Create state and district bond-funding mechanisms for new school construction, rather than pay cash, which should generate another $100 million.
- Restoring funding to community colleges that have been zeroed out in the latest state budget.
In other education-related areas, Kurland supports:
- Universal Pre Kindergarten
- Funding for Full Day Kindergarten.
- Smaller class sizes for greater individualized attention.
- Expansion of Career Pathways/Apprenticeship Opportunities.
- Expansion of Early College Opportunities for qualifying high school students.
- Greater funding for Special Needs and ELL programs.
- Promotion of S.T.E.A.M. programs.
- Free Community College in addition to restoring funding to community colleges at the legislature that the state zeroed out in its budget.
- University Tuition as free as possible for in-state students, including dreamers.
- Increased safety measures such as safety locking all classroom doors from the inside and increased socialization and character education.
- Greater accountability and transparency for charter schools.
- Voucher Expansion for only students with special needs.
- Reducing the counselor to student ratio.
- No more state funds for Koch sponsored schools at Arizona’s Universities.
- Education standards developed by public educators and content experts.
- The people controlling Proposition 301 funding and not the legislature who took control from the people in the Prop 123 victory. Kurland fears that with the people no longer in control of the 301 funds, legislators will raid those funds for other budget or tax priorities.
Kurland recommends that all voters in LD 23 research the voting records of Senator. Kavanagh and Representative Lawrence to see if they will support as forward reaching pro-public education agenda as Kurland.
Combatting the War on Democracy
Kurland believes that “we need to elect people that are trusted and ethical.” Public servants should “amplify the voice of the people” and not stifle it. He believes that elected representatives should serve the wishes of the majority. He thinks the elected representatives are conducting a war on democracy by protecting the affluent that do not have the same interests as the majority.
If the people want public education funded, the people they elect should not vote for funding private school vouchers for the rich.
If the people want a higher minimum wage proposal on the ballot, the people they elect should not vote for making ballot initiatives harder to get on the election calendar “like a game of Operation where a signature is zapped” if it touches the signature line.
If people want to know how dollars are being spent in our private prison system, the people they elect like Senator Kavanagh should not hide studies that show that the public prison system spends their funds more prudently than the private ones.
If the people want to protest, they should expect the people they elect to support that rather than passing measures like the one Lawrence supported in saying protestors cannot wear masks, hiding their identities from their employers.
If the people, by wide margins, want their elected representatives to publicly reveal who is donating to their campaign, those same elected representatives should not be protecting those donors anonymity in a series of “Dark Money” legislative measures.
To help remedy this War on Democracy, Kurland supports:
- Outlawing Dark/Dirty Money at the ballot box this November.
- Making it possible for people to sign online petitions for Ballot Initiatives.
Kurland has a progressive view on most other issues. These include the areas of:
He supports Proposition 206 that passed two years ago and chastises any elected official that tries to make ballot initiatives harder because that measure passed.
The Economy and Jobs
A good quality public school system, contrary to the anti-tax dogma of the State Republican Party, is needed to both train excellent workers and recruit industries that want to bring their families to Arizona with the knowledge and comfort that their children are getting a good education.
He strongly believes that this is an area where the market for green energy sources like solar and wind will create the good paying jobs of the future. He strongly condemns organizations like APS and Pinnacle West for using their Dark Money contributions to influence elected officials at the State Legislature and Corporation Commission for sponsoring the energy industries of the past rather than better investing in the green ones of the future.
He thinks the state should stop raiding the Highway Trust fund to balance the budget on the back of corporate tax cuts.
He supports rail development within cities if the local decision-makers in the cities want it.
He believes we should extend Internet broadband to all corners of the state.
He feels we need to have a water infrastructure plan that promotes conservation and an ample supply.
Kurland maintains that health care is a right and everyone should have access to a quality and affordable medical plan, unlike his opponents who say they are for it but do not provide the means for achieving it. He is in favor of the Affordable Care Act and is receptive to the idea of people buying into the State Medicaid Program AHCCCS. He feels that the economy will be drained if people cannot access good affordable health care.
Criminal Justice System
He feels private prison systems are “immoral and a stain on Arizona. The contracts for these profiteers are a “heads I win; tails you lose” scheme created by the incumbents.”
Furthermore, he feels that more funds should be invested in treatment and rehabilitation, especially for non-violent first-time offenders.
Deemed a Gun Sense Candidate by Moms Demand Action, Kurland, unlike his opponents, strongly supports universal background checks and all gun sales getting processed only through licensed dealers. He also feels domestic abusers should not be allowed access to firearms.
While conceding that border security is the responsibility of the federal government, Kurland is appalled with the recent separation of children from their families, calling it “an abomination,” “war crimes, ” and “inhumane.” He believes we can be laying the foundations for future terrorist acts by how the government treats these children. Furthermore, he disagrees with Lawrence for his embrace of convicted former Maricopa County Sheriff and Birther Joe Arpaio.
Parents of Dreamers
They should be allowed to stay as long as they are obeying the law. They should pay a fine or special tax until they obtain citizenship.
Kurland is for full LGBTQ rights and opposes the Kavanagh proposals to mandate which restroom transgender should use.
Equal Rights Amendment
He fully supports wondering what is taking so long for Arizona to pass it. Women should not be treated as second-class citizens in this state or country.
A Woman’s Right to Choose
He completely supports it with no exceptions and takes issue with both Kavanagh and Lawrence favoring measures that restrict the woman and physicians options in this private matter.
With his Education Army of volunteers in the triple digits, Kurland sees great enthusiasm among Democrats, Independents, and disillusioned Republicans, fueled by the reactionary, ultra-conservative, and nativist policies of Donald Trump, Doug Ducey, and National and State Republican Legislators that do not serve the needs of the majority of the people. People who did not participate in the political process before are coming to his events and those that his LD sponsors.
Kurland is a very passionate and determined candidate that is committed to bringing positive and progressive change to his district. People are encouraged to research his positions and those of his opponents at the site links below. He is a very compelling candidate to watch this year and one who should be considered to elevate to the state legislature in November.