Joshua Izaak for State Representative
FL-HD81 in FL http://www.joshuaizaak.com/
P.O. Box 971031
Boca Raton, FL
Primary Election Date: 2014-08-26 General Election Date: 2014-11-04
Who am I?
I was born in New York City, and after a brief time in Tucson, Arizona, my family moved to Boca Raton, Florida in 1998. I have spent most of my life living in the district in which I am running, attending public elementary, middle, and high schools in the district.
I attended Emory University in Atlanta, from which I graduated with a Bachelors of Arts in Political Science and a Bachelors of Business Administration in Marketing from the Goizueta Business School. I was very involved in the theater community at Emory, and coordinated opportunities to give back to the greater Atlanta area. As President of Emory’s Improv Comedy Troupe, I formed local partnerships with middle and high schools to perform for students and faculty, as well as partnered with a retirement community to perform for the residents. I also coordinated with the Make-A-Wish Foundation to perform at Emory’s Children’s Hospital. We used our unique position as entertainers to bring joy to the members of the community.
I spent my summers during college working in various forms of government. I interned for Congressman, then State Senator, Ted Deutch and Congressman Robert Wexler. I worked on issues ranging from a farmer’s claim of adverse possession, to discrimination claims at a local university to federal issues including the healthcare law, and improving U.S.-Russia relations.
After graduating from college, I enrolled in the University of Florida Levin College of Law, where I am currently in my last semester. I spent my first summer of law school clerking for a local bankruptcy and foreclosure firm, where I helped keep Floridians in their homes, while also fighting against big banks’ false claims of possession.
During my second summer in law school, I worked at the Democratic National Committee in the Voter Protection Department. I worked to combat Republican attempts to restrict access to the vote through discriminatory laws aimed at reducing voter turnout in Democratic constituencies. I also worked to find solutions in response to the conservative Supreme Court’s decision to strike down portions of the 1965 Voting Rights Act.
Why am I running?
I am running to be the next State Representative from District 81 because I truly care about the people living in the District. They have been my family, my neighbors, and my friends for most of my life, and I want to author legislation that will bring positive change to the community. I watch the dysfunction in the state capitol and am frustrated by the lack of fight for common sense policies that will benefit the people of this state. Whether it is expanding access to quality affordable healthcare by expanding Medicaid, transitioning Florida to an alternative fuel economy, or reforming Florida’s education system away from the standardized aptitude based testing regime of the FCAT, I will spend my time as a State Representative fighting to improve the lives of the people of the District and the State of Florida.
My first policy goal would be to fight for the expansion of Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act. There are one million Floridians including children, working families, and seniors on fixed incomes who will not have access to affordable healthcare if we do not expand Medicaid. While expanding Medicaid is the moral thing to do, it is also fiscally responsible. During the first three years of the Medicaid expansion, the State of Florida would save $300 million a year. When we are at our highest liability as a State we would still be saving $100 million a year. This money can be reinvested into education, infrastructure, energy, and further healthcare efficiencies.
My next policy goal is to fight to reform Florida’s education system away from standardized aptitude based tests and towards a curriculum based approach. I have been through every level of Florida’s education system, and have seen firsthand the deep-rooted flaws inherent in that system. Teachers must be given the freedom and flexibility to actually teach the curriculum they were hired to teach rather than teach to the test, and students must be given the opportunity to think critically rather than to learn how to take a test. I will fight to decouple testing performance from school funding and teacher salary. I will fight to increase teacher pay, and improve educational degree programs in universities so our teachers graduate best prepared to educate our children. I will also fight to provide current teachers with continuing education seminars on new and effective teaching strategies to implement in the classroom. As someone who had been involved in both band and theater I understand the benefits of a quality arts education, and will fight for increased funding for the Arts in schools. Finally, I will fight to increase overall school funding so that every child whether in an affluent or low income community has the resources and supplies available to be successful.
My third top policy goal is to fight for voting reforms to expand access to the vote and reduce the time it takes to vote on Election Day. Working in the Voter Protection Department of the DNC, I spent every day fighting to combat Republican policies aimed at stopping people from voting. I also researched new and innovative policies that progressive states such as Colorado and Maryland were enacting to ensure everyone had the opportunity to make their voice heard. I want to work to bring these policies to Florida so that we stop the purge of voters from our voting rolls, and make sure that people aren’t standing in line for seven hours on Election Day.
I understand these fights will not be easy, especially considering the large Republican majorities in the legislature. However, when we replace Rick Scott with a strong Democratic alternative we will be given the opportunity to once again exert our influence on policy, and I hope that my three top goals will be the first to be enacted.
My DFA Values
My policy platform is perfectly in line with your values of community, security and liberty. The Medicaid expansion will help provide one million Floridians including children, working families and seniors on fixed incomes, with access to affordable healthcare that they will otherwise be without. Education reform that moves away from high stakes standardized aptitude tests towards a system where teachers are able to teach creatively and students are able to think critically makes our schools and our students more competitive on the world stage. Transitioning from an energy economy dependent on fossil fuels to one reliant on alternative sources of energy like solar, wind and biomass is vital not only for our national security, but also for our economy. Florida has an abundance of renewable resources. If we would only put the resources necessary towards research, innovation, and incentives for consumers we could lead the country in energy independence and be an exporter of renewable technology. Environmental protection benefits our community as well as our security. It is vital that every person has clean air to breathe, clean water to drink, and clean food to eat. We must also have the safeguards in place to prevent disasters like the contamination of West Virginia’s water supply. One of the biggest issues in the state of Florida is the conservation and protection of our water, and an event as severe as that which happened a few weeks ago in Appalachia would have a devastating effect on the people and the economy of this state.
While a State Representative has less direct influence on foreign affairs there are still areas in which you can have an impact. For instance, when I spent a summer working for Ted Deutch when he was a State Senator, he was working on legislation to prevent companies from investing retirement benefit funds in Iran. The success of that bill in Florida set the stage for similar legislation to be adopted nationally when he became a Congressman. This experience taught me that strong policies can have an effect on the world stage even if originated from state government.
Finally, I believe that the right to vote should not be infringed upon. I will fight against any politician’s attempt to pass discriminatory voting laws that reduce access to the polls or any attempt to restrict certain segments of the population from being able to vote. I will look to progressive states that have recently passed voting legislation, like Colorado and Maryland, as models on ways to expand access to voting.
My Campaign is People Powered!
One example of my campaign’s progressive outreach is my emphasis on engaging young people. I have contacted the College Democrats at Florida’s universities and have worked to organize speaking engagements, including a recent talk at the University of Florida’s chapter. I am also engaging students through social media by organizing events, soliciting volunteers, and sharing my policy positions.
Another example of my progressive outreach involves contacting and meeting with local Democratic groups, and their leadership. For example, I recently attended a candidate forum organized by the Democratic Women’s Club of Palm Beach County. My appearance can be found at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GL7iomLylGA. I plan on continuing to reach out to these organizations, and work on organizing groups of individuals with common interests who will be able to reach large and distinctive constituencies. This will help to garner support and build my volunteer team.
My outreach efforts and personalized correspondence have led to strong grassroots results in terms of contributions. Even though my opponent had a 9 month head start in terms of raising money, I have as many contributors as my opponent. Unlike my opponent, all my contributions have come from individuals, and not special interest groups or insurance companies. The vast majority of my contributions are small dollar amounts. Although I am proud of these results, it requires me to work much harder to reach the total dollar amount raised by my opponent.