Real Reform / Reforma Real / 真正的改革

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Hello. Thanks for checking out our website JeffKurzon.com. I ask for your vote this November 6, 2018. You will see my name “Jeffrey M. Kurzon” on the Reform Party of NY ballot line if you live and vote in New York’s 7th Congressional District. Our district has such great people with such great diversity. I am honored to be able to ask for your vote. Please continue reading to know a little more about me and why I want to represent you in Washington.

The problem with our politics is that we have become very polarized and as a result, nothing gets accomplished in Washington, unless it is a corporate tax cut or some other benefit to big business. Our current system allows political action committees (PACs) and lobbyists to donate to incumbent politicians. More often than not these PACs and lobbyists want to achieve a goal for corporations. Nearly everyone I speak with understands that these $10,000 checks from the likes of big banks and big corporations corrupt our politics because these checks are not given benevolently. They are given because there is an expectation of something in return; this is a corruption on our democracy that is supposed to work for the people; you, me and our neighbors. These PACs and lobbyists are buying the influence of the lawmakers. Even our NY-7 incumbent, who has been in Congress for 26 years, she takes money from Amazon, Coca-Cola, Goldman Sachs and McDonald’s PACs, just to name a few. This creates a McDonaldization of our society. Our diversity is lost and small businesses, entrepreneurs, artists and freelancers then have a harder time competing with these big businesses because our policies from Washington favor these big businesses. The Affordable Care Act is a prime example. It was written by the insurance lobby for the insurance lobby. I do not know anyone who is happy with their insurance policy because of high premiums and deductibles. It is almost like not having insurance at all, but it is a very real cost to us all. There are many more examples. Many of those with jobs still cannot support themselves or their families because we not a have living wages, the way big corporations want mostly to maximize shareholder profit. PROMESA was passed by the incumbent for the benefit of the banks and to the detriment of Puerto Rico and Puerto Ricans. Do her bank PAC contributions in $10,000 chunks cause a conflict when she is serving on the House Financial Services Committee? They sure do. Her job is to regulate the banks and yet she takes their money to not regulate them. Why does the United States not have a postal bank? Just the other day I met a guy who distrusts banks so much that he keeps his money under his mattress (well, he said he hides it better than that and did not tell me exactly where!).

My story may be similar to yours in that I was not born in New York City but chose to move here to be around interesting people and find interesting work. Many people want to know why I want to hold this political office. The short answer is that being “American” is central to my identity and I want to be proud of my country. So I want to fight to make it more just and a better place for all of us . The reason I think like this is that I spent most of my higher education abroad. I studied in Canada (McGill), France (aix-en-provence) and Italy (Torino). I also worked for six months in Hong Kong. So what does it mean to be American? The way to learn is to leave the United States and see how other people live. Often times it is the first generation Americans that are the most “American” because they are the ones who choose to leave their home country and find a better life here. I was born here and have spent probably five sixths (5/6ths) of my life here, but am fortunate to have had these experiences outside the United States to understand that we are not the only country in the world that matters. They all matter. We are all connected. We must act together to protect our planet. When I am your Congressman, I will promote international cultural and educational exchanges so that others can have similar experiences. We should be doing this too with Puerto Rico - to help Puerto Ricans with economic development - but also to help mainland Americans learn Spanish.

While there are many people who would probably be a better Congressman than me, I do have some strengths that I believe make me well-suited to represent you in Washington:

  • I know the district well and enjoy getting to know it better. I have lived in Bushwick, Dumbo, Little Italy and now the Lower East Side on the edge of Chinatown. Once upon a time for about seven months, I cursed the noise of the J train when I lived on the second floor beneath it, catching occasional sleep where I would dream of replacing the overhead tracks with an elevated park and putting the train underground. I love going to Sunset Park and practicing my Spanish with people from all over the Americas, Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic. The park there is perhaps the best in New York City. I am proud of our diverse cultures and as an Armenian American I like to think I add to the diversity as well. Going to Woodhaven reminds me of where I grew up just outside of Boston. Every time I go to Ridgewood, I meet someone interesting from another part of the world, most recently Poland. I volunteer and have family in Brooklyn Heights. I speak French proficiently and enjoy learning Spanish. My 2014 office was in Red Hook. While I was raised Catholic, I am curious about other religions and appreciate learning from the large Jewish population in our district. One day I hope to learn Chinese and travel more in China, but for now I enjoy living so close to Chinatown. There are about 750,000 people living in our district, around 380,000 of whom are registered voters. By the way, if you know someone who is not registered to vote, help them register here. All of us have a unique story. Mine is no better than anyone else’s, just different.

  • The job of a Congressman is to represent others. I am not perfect and I do not know who is, but I have been a lawyer for fifteen years. My skills as a lawyer I believe are needed now in Washington. We need to solve serious problems. How to better care for the elderly and our aging population, how to protect our environment and stop the “throw-away culture,” how to build more schools and reduce class sizes so our children can better learn for the future, how to reform our criminal justice system so that we do not just throw people in jail (all-too-often persons of color) for non-violent offenses (the United States incarcerates a higher percentage of its population than any other country), how to protect the rights of women, how to protect all of us from gun violence, how to provide good healthcare to not just our citizens but to every person living in our borders, how to improve our economy, how end our system of perpetual war where our weapons companies (who give politicians PAC contributions) are selling weapons abroad that are being used to commit atrocities against innocent human life, and how to work with one another to fix these problems and more. What I hope you understand about me is that these problems affect me and so selfishly I want to solve them for myself, but I know the job of Representative is to be a public servant. The motto of my high school was “Non sibi,” or Latin for “not for oneself.” While my problems may not always be your problems, my job will be to solve your problems. If I am not doing that, then I will expect that you vote for someone else in 2020. My belief is that we share many of the same fears, doubts and stresses that make life more challenging than need be. It is not just that the middle-class is disappearing, practically everyone is struggling now, everyone is getting financially squeezed, trying to make enough money to pay the rent or the mortgage. Most people spend so much time working that they do not get enough time to enjoy life with their families. Before I was a lawyer, I was a student of sociology. Washington needs more sociologists that can recognize that our individual problems are actually problems we all share and can all fix together.

  • My political skills are mediocre to above average - this means that I am ready, willing and able to work with people who hold different belief systems than I do. Many of my friends and family are Republican. I believe the Green Party should grow and flourish. The Reform Party of NY, a big tent party, gave me this opportunity to be on the November ballot and for their efforts in fighting corruption I am extremely grateful and hope to support their efforts. I first became really politically active campaigning for Barack Obama in 2007. I took six months off from my job to knock on doors in New Hampshire for four months and then help organize Asian American outreach in the California headquarters. Obama lost New Hampshire, but he won 11 of the 12 towns where I spent nearly every day knocking on doors. What did I say to these voters? Barack Obama is the only candidate not taking money from PACs and lobbyists. So my message is not new. I made this the core of my 2014 and 2016 campaigns in the Democratic Party primary when I challenged the incumbent to stop taking PAC and lobbyist donations. By June 30, 2018, she had already spent over $500,000 of this money in this election cycle alone. All this money, whether spent for good or for bad, is money that came from corporate PACs who have been buying our Congress all around the country. This is a serious corruption we must stop.

  • I did not plan to run for office this year or anytime in the future. Many people asked me “Jeff, will you run again?” after 2014 and 2016. I did not think I would because it is such hard work raising money and getting signatures to be on the ballot and I am just trying to pay my rent. The reason the Reform Party of NY nominated me was because they held a federal primary on June 26, 2018. The primary was an open primary (what I believe the Democrats should do to increase political participation) whereby Reform Party members and unaffiliated voters (there are approximately 77,000 of you in NY-7) could vote and write-in their choice. The results: Suraj Patel (who was running in NY-12) got 17 votes and the 26 year incumbent got 17 votes. This tie then allowed the party to nominate anyone. They reached out to me on July 12 to ask if I would be interested. I was interviewed on July 16 and then granted a “Wilson Pakula” by the party on June 20 (the Wilson Pakula allows a political party to nominate a candidate from another political party - I am registered as a Democrat). This was an incredibly quick decision I had to make, but I decided to do it because I thought it would be an opportunity to change things for the better in our country. All this to say, I may not be the most reluctant candidate, and I am a Democrat running against another Democrat in the November general election, but I hope you will vote for me because you think I can do a better job for our district and our country than the incumbent.

    Speaking of the incumbent, I have mentioned that she finances her campaigns with special interest PAC and lobbyist money. Many politicians do this. This is not the case with our local elections (city) because New York City has a publicly financed system of elections with matching funds - we need this at the national level to get a better, more open, transparent and responsive government. My disagreement is not with her personally. However, I do not understand the game she plays when she takes corporate PAC money, the same corporate PACs that donate to Republicans, then criticizes Republicans. It seems hypocritical to me. My approach is different: during this campaign, and all future re-election campaigns (assuming there may be one), I refuse and will refuse PAC and lobbyist money. This is because when I am your Representative, my sole loyalty will be to the people that live in my district. I will avoid the conflict of interest that the incumbent has entangled herself in. While she does some good things while in office (such as vote “no” for the Iraq War), she is not the person to reform our corrupted system of campaign finance. She does not even live in our district NY-7, she lives in NY-10, which I think is symbolic of her being out of touch as to how much we all struggle, while she jets around in her corporate-PAC-bought SUV. This is not the approach we need. We need citizen lawmakers sitting down together and solving problems to improve our quality of life.

    Just ask yourself: how is our district (NY-7) doing lately? I think we are doing ok, it could be worse, but when I see:

  • Our public housing falling apart with lead paint on the walls

  • Children in overcrowded schools

  • Children without proper food and nutrition

  • Seniors not getting the help they need

  • Homeless people on the street, in the subway and sleeping in our parks

  • Lack of good affordable healthcare - even for people with “insurance”

  • Students and recent graduates with so much debt

  • Caregivers getting fatigued and workers being underpaid and underappreciated

  • Innocent people, all too often persons of color, being dragged through our courts and jails

  • Immigrants and minorities being mistreated

  • Lack of affordable housing - and even when it is called “affordable,” it is not

  • City density rising, but no corresponding improvements to our transportation or infrastructure

  • Empty storefronts that once used to home “mom and pop” businesses

  • Growing inequality between the rich and the poor to the point where it is so bad that it is even upsetting to the rich

Then I ask myself, are we doing the right thing here? Can we do better? How do you think things are going?

My name is Jeffrey M. Kurzon and I ask for your vote this November 6, 2018 so that we can together do better and make our city and country a better place. If you can donate $5 to help me reach more voters, please click the button below. If you support me, you can also print a letter and tell your neighbors why and slide it under their door or give them a call. We always need more volunteers. Thank you for your consideration and I hope to be in touch with you soon.