State Assembly Delegate, District 20 – Jonathan Shurberg

shurberg2Jonathan Shurberg

1) Tell us about yourself.

I am a lifelong progressive Democrat who has lived my values politically, professionally and personally. I have lived in Silver Spring since 1990, and built my legal practice representing the needs of individuals in this community. My wife and I moved to Silver Spring to raise our family, and when my children attended Highland View elementary I served as the PTA representative to the Downcounty Consortium.

For the past decade I have advocated extensively for progressive causes in Rockville and Annapolis. I have testified on hundreds of bills ranging from voting rights to GMO labelling, and served on legislative committees for marriage equality (2011) and gender identity anti-discrimination laws (2013). I have also worked to elect progressive champions including Tom Perez, Jamie Raskin, Heather Mizeur, Marc Elrich, and Donna Edwards.

2) What do you hope to accomplish in office?

As a delegate I hope to bring my legal expertise to the benefit of Maryland and District 20 residents, particularly where the current law does not provide for the fairness we want to see. We need to do better to advance progressive causes that involve money – causes that founder when Democratic lawmakers hesitate to fully embrace an agenda of economic justice and equality. My major focuses include:

• Passing a better minimum wage bill with indexing to make Maryland a living wage state
• Expanding paid family and medical leave
• Making Universal Pre-K a part of Maryland’s early elementary system

• Updating Maryland’s school funding formula to reflect an updated GCEI calculation and providing funds needed for school construction

• Ending egregious tax giveaways to large corporations and the wealthiest 2% of residents.

3) What would you say your biggest accomplishment has been so far. What does that say about your priorities as delegate?

In 2008, I represented Equality Maryland and a group of advocates in defense of a Maryland’s first gender identity non-discrimination law, keeping the law from being put to a referendum. That same year, I successfully argued for a 17 year old Bethesda teenager to be allowed to vote in the primary, when she would be 18 by the general election. This case restored the voting rights of more than 50,000 Marylanders in the 2008 election.

As my law practice increasingly focused on political and election law, my advocacy for progressive causes has also grown. The cases and issues I am focused on are those that remove barriers to civic participation, rectify discrimination or systemic inequities, and level the playing field for individuals or groups whose voices are marginalized.

4) Many of you have fought for political causes outside of the assembly. What could you accomplish as a delegate that you couldn’t accomplish as an advocate?

As an attorney, I have often been called upon by legislators to help constituents with their individual needs. In this role I can help individuals and groups who have been wronged – but I can do little when they are insufficiently protected by existing law. As an advocate, I can add my voice to support good proposals or oppose bad ideas, — but as a Delegate, I can help improve the laws, and use my expertise to better the legal landscape for everyone.

Much of the focus of a campaign is about high profile legislation and positions taken on major issues, but I believe the most important job of a Delegate is to be an available resource for members of the community, and that is how I plan to serve.

5) What distinguishes you from the other candidates?

Based on my experience, I am the only (non-incumbent) candidate who is ready to serve the community effectively on Day One in office. I have a depth of understanding of the issues and the ramifications of my decisions on real world circumstances. Working on committees with legislators and activists I have brought the ability to seek creative and effective solutions to seemingly intractable problems. This work has also given me an extensive network of relationships with both current elected officials and a range of candidates across the State. I understand how Annapolis works. Most importantly, I will always fight for the issues that are my core values and those of the community I seek to represent.

6) That is the top issue (or one of the top issues) facing the District and how do you propose to deal with it?

District 20 is distinguished for having tremendous variety and diversity within and among our communities – more so than many other districts in the county and the state. Economic diversity is just one characteristic of this, but it is one with tremendous effect on our neighborhoods, businesses and schools. We have to ensure that income inequality doesn’t stifle our community.
Raising wages is one piece of the puzzle, and I believe the bill passed in 2014 falls far short of what is needed to create a true living wage in Maryland. We also need to make sure retirees are not priced out of the communities they helped build. And we need to fix our school funding so every student has a fair chance to succeed, from good Pre-K to graduation.

7) What are the top issues facing the Assembly and how do you propose to deal with it?

As mentioned previously, I believe Maryland continues to struggle with economic and social justice issues where money is on the line. Instead of creating a living wage with indexing, the legislature voted to give away $130 million per year to the wealthiest 2% of residents. We can never find money to fund public Pre-K for every child, or update our aging and overcrowded schools, but the Assembly continues to give big corporations tax breaks, even when they don’t provide the kind of well-paying jobs we want to see.
Our Progressive legislators need to work together to fix regressive tax policies and better direct Maryland’s tax dollars towards programs and infrastructure investments that will benefit everyone in our communities, not just those with the most money and influence.

8) Please list endorsements:

• Planned Parenthood of Metropolitan Washington Action Fund
• NARAL Pro-Choice Maryland PAC
• The Gazette

9) Please supply links, and contact info.


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