Green Party candidate Kulma has uphill battle in 5th District race

Chester News & Reporter
By Brian Garner
March 21, 2017

David Kulma has values, and he believes those values best fit with the philosophy of the Green Party. He said he’s not going to sit on the bench any longer; he wants to take those values with him to Washington.

Kulma is running as a Green Party candidate for the 5th Congressional District seat vacated by Rep. Mick Mulvaney when he was appointed President Donald Trump’s director of the OMB, the Office of Management and Budget.

During his visit to Chester, beginning at the Chester County Historical Society Museum where he hoped to learn more about the history of the county, Kulma sat down on the Aaron Burr bench with The N&R to talk about his campaign, the national situation as it relates to the possible disbanding of the National Endowment for the Arts and National Endowment for the Humanities, as proposed in President Trump’s budget, and why the Green Party is the perfect political fit for him.

“I’m in Chester to learn more about the city and the county and we plan to get out and meet some people today,” Kulma said.

Kulma said he chose to run for the 5th Congressional District seat because the recent national elections really stirred him up. He said sometimes he feels like running as a third party candidate in a nation controlled by the Republicans may feel a bit as if he’s tilting at windmills and “dreaming the impossible dream,” to extend the “Man of La Mancha” analogy.

“The election went in unexpected ways, right? One of the things I wanted to make sure that was happening is my values, my progressive values, were spoken of, even in a place like this (meaning conservative South Carolina).

“I think it’s important that over the next two years, as people are working on how to make sure the values that we’ve been talking about for a long time (that are not represented by Donald Trump) are spoken about and aired in public.”

“I don’t believe the Democratic Party and the Democratic candidates are not going to speak to the issues and the values I stand for, so I wanted to get into the race, to make sure my values are spoken about,” he said.

Kulma and his wife Kirsten live in Rock Hill. He is an adjunct professor in the Music Department at Winthrop University and is a professional musician whose instrument of choice is the oboe. He is also a composer of Avant-garde performance art pieces and unusual video performances. He was born and raised in Ohio, and has two music degrees from Kent State University in Ohio.

As a musician, a teacher of music and a video performer and creator, Kulma feels he is uniquely qualified to speak about the removal of the funding for the National Endowments for the Arts and Humanities, which is a measure contained within the proposed national budget.

“One of the classes I teach right now is a rock and popular music class for non-music majors. It’s basically a humanities class about music. We talk about how music relates to society and how it relates to their lives. I allow the students to help me choose what the weekly topics for the class are, and they vote on them.”

“The important thing about the arts and humanities to me is they are one of the places in society that is not regulated by business and markets. Non-profit organizations, the 501c3s were created specifically to be exceptions to the market. One of the most troubling things to me is over the past 30 to 40 years, non-profit organizations are being slowly turned into for-profit businesses that apparently have (humanitarian) missions, rather than focusing on the missions themselves.”

“And they do that because they have to, to stay alive, but that’s because the idea of financialization has taken over so much of our society, that the people sitting on the boards of those non-profits somehow have come to believe that the purpose of this organization is to somehow make its own bucks back,” Kulma said.

“As opposed to this, the purpose of those national endowments is to take money, public money, and fund public art that enriches peoples’ lives. That is the point – the point of those endowments is to make art,” he said, “it’s not whether they got enough people to show up to pay for the tickets so they can pay back the facility fees. The whole point is to take money you made in the market, and place it into things that make peoples’ lives better. The whole idea that we would dismantle and eliminate those things is offensive,” Kulma said.

He added it doesn’t surprise him that the former holder of this Congressional seat would promote a budget that dismantled those endowments, or one that looks to defund the Meals on Wheels program, by cutting off one of its sources of funds.

“What’s the purpose for Meals on Wheels? So far as I know the purpose is to take people who are stuck in their homes, for whatever reason, who cannot go out and buy food – elderly, disabled people and veterans – and you get food and bring it to them at the house. I don’t know about you but that sounds like one of the most wonderful things a society can do,” he said.

“One of the reasons I decided to run on the Green Party ticket is because the Green Party is all about community, and really emphasizing people in their local communities coming together to solve problems and to make their societies better. Meals on Wheels is a perfect example. You’re going into someone’s house, and not only are you giving them food, you’re making them a part of the community,” he said.

Kulma enters a field of 15 or so candidates for this Congressional seat and knows that he has to win over voters who might traditionally vote for either party.

“That’s going to be a difficult thing. We have two strategies we are trying right now to accomplish this, because we’re just starting up and we’re a small operation. We are not funded at all by any corporate or business money. In fact we don’t accept those donations. This is a campaign that is funded at the grassroots level by people,” Kulma said.

He plans to get his message out to those potential voters (and contributors) by parlaying his YouTuber skills making instructional music videos and some that are, as he says, “silly” into the ability to make more serious videos about his campaign message.

“In those videos, I talk about issues – two of them I have made so far are me talking about universal healthcare (I want Medicare for all, universal healthcare now) and I’m talking about public education. I think public education is a public good and we should fund it that way,” Kulma said.

“So I’m using the social media strategy to reach people on Facebook and the like, reaching people inside the district and outside. My opponents are busy raising money from rich people, and putting up yard signs and going to fundraising events. The second thing we are going to do is be on the ground and meet people, just talking to them about what their problems are, and the way I think I can address them,” Kulma said.

“I think part of the role I would have as your Congressman is to be a voice for people who have the values I have, things the Democrats don’t necessarily speak to,” said Kulma.