Karen Kukurin

Karen Kukurin
  • Democrat

About Karen Kukurin

Education

Penn State University, B.S. Environmental Relations with an emphasis in Communications.

Background

I have 30 plus years experience in business, government and non-profits. As a business executive and an environmentalists, I joined Governor Schwarzenegger’s staff and helped to create a cutting edge green economy, which resulted in the creation of a half-a-million green jobs. I also served as the first woman vice president of a 5,000 member employer organization and oversaw the organization’s legislation and legal divisions. Former business owner of a public relations/advocacy firm. Former consultant to United Way, Inc., working with its 230 non-profit member agencies.

Questionnaire

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1
Glassman record
What do you consider the greatest accomplishments and failings of the Glassman administration?
Kukurin: With two mass shootings in the past 12 months, the need for a 724 mental health center to deal with both mental health issues and drug intervention is painfully obvious. This should have been put in place by the County months or even years ago. There is also a crying need for more transparency from the County Executive, with regard to what he talks about doing and what actually gets done. It’s easy to talk about our needs, some of which are then forgotten with the passage of time. Each year the Executive should publish a graph, showing county residents exactly where their tax dollars are going. Why and how their money is being spent. Currently, this information is difficult, if not impossible to locate on the County’s website. The County’s residents can’t hold the Executive or the Council accountable, if they have no idea what’s actually going on, with precise and easy to understand facts on how their tax dollars are being spent. The Executive should be leading the way with a clear plan for growing the county’s economy while preserving our quality of life.
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2
Taxes
Does Harford County have adequate resources to meet its needs, particularly in the funding of public schools and law enforcement?
Kukurin: Harford County’s law enforcement appears to be adequately funded. As for our schools, retaining good teachers is a matter of competing with other school districts nationwide and Harford County will get what it pays for. Generally speaking, the issue of taxes is an ongoing balancing act. It’s a question of providing the services county residents demand to preserve our quality of life without breaking taxpayer’s backs. County officials need to listen to their constituents and act accordingly.
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3
Land use
Have the county’s land use policies adequately balanced growth and the preservation of existing communities and agricultural land?
Kukurin: As our land use continues to change from rural to semi-urban and new development stretches further into once remote areas, we must take a visionary approach when planning and ask ourselves what we want our community to look like 20 years from now. If the continuation of negligent, reckless, irresponsible decisions by Harford County’s elected officials is not stopped, our community will becomes another overly built, traffic congested nightmare. Special interests and large donors’ needs are being put above the best interests of the citizens, destroying our quality of life and it must stop. I believe we can both develop business and save our rural landscape. I’m concerned about preserving ourenvironment and I’m a member of the Harford County Land Trust, Friends of Harford (County Citizens Voice for Responsive Land Use), Ma & Pa Trail, Inc, and a supporter of the Chesapeake Bay Foundation and Susquehannock Wildlife Society.
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4
Opioids
How do you rate the county’s efforts to fight opioid addiction overdoses? What else, if anything, should the county be doing to combat the epidemic?
Kukurin: I’m encouraged by local law enforcement’s emphasis on combating opioid addiction. There has also been talk, from the county executive and other local leaders, especially in the wake of this most recent mass-shooting, that there is a need for a mental health center to offer support for both mental health and addiction issues in Harford County. They’ve been talking about it for some time. My hope, is that they will now finally get it done. For far too long we have looked to law enforcement alone to solve this ongoing problem.
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5
Sherrif's office
How would you characterize the relationship between the Harford County Sheriff’s Office and the communities it serves? Are any reforms necessary?
Kukurin: The Sheriff’s office suffers from what has turned out to be the crushing burden of the opioid crisis. The County needs to offer greater support by establishing a drug-interdiction and mental health facility offering better services for those in need. Those who are addicted to opioids and other substances, should have a place to go for help without fear of being arrested. Fortunately, the Sheriff’s office has implemented a position of not arresting anyone at the site of a call for help because of an overdose, which has encouraged people to call for help. Having said that, I’m disappointed that the Sheriff’s Office puts out on its Facebook a weekly post called Ladies Night making fun of women, who have been arrested. Some of these women may have a drug addiction, and shaming doesn’t help to solve the problem. The Sheriff’s office plays a large and important role in our community and as a candidate, I think it’s important to know what the office does and what challenges it faces. This is why I attended and graduated from the intense, comprehensive Citizens’ Police Academy offered to the community by the Sheriff’s office.
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6
Fire/EMS
The Glassman administration is trying to lead Harford County’s formerly all-volunteer fire and emergency medical services to more a professional organization with more paid personnel. How do you rate the county’s effort and what should have or could have done differently in this controversial transformation?
Kukurin: The debate on how to best operate fire and EMS services is on-going and complicated. You have a growing population and a need for paid staff, a reluctant citizenry, who doesn’t want tax increases and a volunteer force, who has roots in a tradition going back generations, which is diminishing, but has saved the county money. I believe the study by the University of Maryland Center for Health & Homeland Security (CHHS) was a good start in attempting to untangle this Gordian knot by way of a gradual transition. However, I think it would have been prudent to provide the Harford County Volunteers Fire and EMS Assn the opportunity to review a draft prior to its release. Getting input from the people on the front line is good management practice. As a result of not doing this, it has caused consternation among all concerned, complicating the problem further. No matter how difficult, I believe collaboration is the best approach.
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