Called an anti-politician iconoclast who thinks outside the box, longtime Forest Knolls resident Alex East-Brown is running for state assembly for the second time, hoping to take over after incumbent Alyson Huber leaves office later this year.
With an academic sensibility and an unconventional yet passionate approach to politics, Mr. Easton-Brown wants to work to wipe out student loan debt, limit pensions to $100,000 annually, take the tax burden off the middle class, and protect women’s reproductive rights, choice and medical privacy.
Wearing a baseball cap with “99%” stamped on the front, Mr. Easton-Brown discussed his platform in the kitchen of the San Geronimo Valley house he built in the late 1970’s.
“We’re really in a depression,” he said, “Six years ago, no one was talking about the burden of student loans and mortgages [the way they are today].” He went on to say that debt used to be perceived differently in Western culture, before the Calvinist puritan tradition made debt into something that was irrevocable and could not be forgiven.
“Now, debt and property are more important than people,” he said. “The $13 trillion that is being made available to the largest banks for the bailout is enough to pay off every mortgage in the United States and buy a home for every person who did not already own one. That’s how much money we are making available for these guys to gamble and play casino with. That’s why I’m in politics.”
Mr. Easton-Brown is the California coordinator for the 99% Declaration, of www.the99declaration.org, which originated from a working group of the New York City General Assembly of the Occupy Wall Street movement.
And it is grassroots movements such as that which inspired Mr. Easton-Brown to forego campaign contributions and instead fund all campaign activities using his personal savings.
“Even mom and pop contributions can represent favors owed,” he said. “I prefer to be independent and stand alone.” He is focusing on IT methods to reach voters, and does not expect to use all of the $35,000 he set aside.
Mr. Easton-Brown has been both praised and criticized for his perceived “anti-politician” stance. While avoiding traditional routes might free him from the regular political “wheeling and dealing,” critics have said his decision to go straight for an assembly seat speaks to a lack of experience.
“Working your way up, you wind up owing so many favors,” Mr. Easton-Brown said, “that you’re bound to special interests by the time you make it. The process is in and of itself corrupting, and I want to avoid that.”
Mr. Easton-Brown is running against Democrats H. Christian Gunderson, Michael Allen, Marc Levine and Connie Wong, Republican Peter Mancus, and Independent Joe Boswell in the primary on June 5.
The general election takes place on November 6.