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Former Staunton City Council member Erik Curren pressing former colleagues on 2020, Capitol insurrection

Erik Curren
Erik Curren

Former Staunton City Council member Erik Curren wants to city leaders to take what seems to be a pretty basic stand.

Affirm the results of the 2020 presidential election.

Denounce the actions of those who breached Congress on behalf of former President Trump seeking to overturn the will of the voters.

Commit to protecting Staunton residents from domestic terrorist groups known to be operating locally.

“I’m going to go back to City Council on Thursday night in person, because I want to make an impact. And I’m going to let them know how disappointed I am that they didn’t issue a statement so far, they’ve had a month to do it. And that our citizens still care. This isn’t going to go away. Our citizens want our City Council to speak out about this,” said Curren, a guest on today’s “Street Knowledge” podcast.

Curren served two terms on Staunton City Council before the surprising seismic sweep by a four-candidate conservative slate in the May 2020 elections turned the Queen City on its head politically.

Curren noted on “Street Knowledge” that he was “glad to have some time off” after eight years in local government and had begun settling into his post-politics career, but felt himself pulled back in with the events of Jan. 6.

“It horrified me that the nation founded by Washington, Jefferson, Madison, preserved by Lincoln, would be attacked by such despicable people, many of whom were white supremacist terrorists. I felt like it was my responsibility as an American to stand up,” Curren said. “This is not an issue just for people in Washington to handle. We don’t expect people in the District of Columbia to be responsible for the whole preserving the United States system of government. People all over the country have to stand up if they feel strongly about it, and I did.

“I was scared to death. I still am. I felt like I had to go back to Staunton City Council.”

Curren addressed City Council in January, talking about his own election loss, and how he and his colleagues who came up short “didn’t start a campaign to stop the steal.”

“We didn’t question the results. We didn’t hire lawyers to file lawsuits. We didn’t hold rallies, asking people to demand recounts, or storm City Hall or attack officials. We realize that being in politics, you win some, and you lose some, and you go on, and that’s what democracy is. You respect the will of the voters,” Curren said.

When Donald Trump made it clear that he didn’t respect the will of the voters, it occurred to Curren that “this is how democracies have fallen in the past.”

“I never thought that would happen here,” Curren said. “But I thought, OK, I need our City Council to know that a lot of our citizens are scared, a lot of our citizens are concerned. They think it’s unacceptable that violent mobs should attack the United States Capitol and try to overturn a valid election.

“I took the results, and I moved on with my life. Trump should have done the same thing. And so I asked them to affirm the election of President Biden and Vice President Harris as a valid election. I asked them to denounce the despicable insurrection on Jan. 6 by Trump supporters. And I asked them to reassure our citizens that they would protect us from domestic terrorist groups.”

The response: crickets.

“They haven’t taken any action,” Curren said. “In fact, all they did was make some comments that were sort of vaguely racist, insulting, sort of equating civil rights activists with white supremacist insurrectionists, pulling Martin Luther King way out of context to justify a pro-Trump insurrection, and making sort of comments like, Oh, we don’t deal with national issues. Well, they had a hearing on the Second Amendment in the United States Constitution. You know, I don’t know if their memory is that good. But they dealt with a national issue fairly recently. Well, this is a national issue that I don’t think they can squirm out of.

Curren plans to be in attendance at the City Council meeting on Thursday to present city leaders with an online petition, signed at this writing by more than 200, requesting that City Council affirm the election results, denounce the Jan. 6 insurrection, and commit to protecting Staunton residents from domestic terrorist groups operating locally.

The politics of the times might get in the way, but Curren has hopes that his former colleagues on City Council will rise to the moment.

“I can’t help but think that that those folks really want to be in public service for the right reasons,” Curren said. “I’m going to give them the benefit of the doubt. I’m going to hope that they can put the country ahead of party, that they can put the benefit of the citizens of Staunton and the people in the local area, ahead of whatever pressure they might be getting from their donors to, you know, to stay out of this.”

Story by Chris Graham

augusta free press
augusta free press