LODI, CA: Surrounded by friends, family, and supporters, Ricky Gill, 24, announced here his candidacy as a Republican running in what is currently California’s 11th Congressional District.
Gill, a first-generation American born and raised in Lodi, made his announcement in the shadow of Lodi Memorial Hospital. The speech occurred after nearly 10 weeks in an exploratory committee process that garnered counsel from several of the region’s most respected business owners, educators, public servants, and farmers. He described his decision to seek office as an opportunity to “ensure that San Joaquin County gains a seat at the table and a voice in American politics,” and evidenced the extent of under-representation with a reminder that no current state or federal legislators call the county home.
“It has been far too long since an election revolved around the livelihood of people in this community,” he emphasized. “Competing candidates parachute into this county at the eleventh hour; they ask you only for your vote, not your opinion. They offer you sound bites, not the substance you deserve.”
His comments focused on economic rejuvenation by blocking restrictive regulations that drive up costs for local farmers and small businesses, spurring job creation via incentives for entrepreneurship, and encouraging start-up companies to hang a shingle in the county, as well as advocating for a vigorous partnership linking neighboring San Joaquin and Silicon Valleys. He championed the interests of farmers with a pledge to cultivate foreign markets for their world-class products and to prevent their share of water from being used elsewhere, essentially “restoring agriculture to its full and respected place in the economy of our country.”
The son of respected physicians, Gill added that “our vitality as a nation is tied not only to our ideals, but also our own health and that of our loved ones, neighbors, and fellow citizens.” His agenda includes a vow to protect the relationship between patient and physician by enacting tort reform as a tool to curb malpractice insurance costs. He added: “I will safeguard the rights of consumers to make their own decisions that drive down premiums while improving the quality of care.”
Gill’s remarks also touted public education as a keynote issue in his campaign, calling it “the great equalizer of any free society and a compact between this generation and the next – a promise that American children will be limited only by the extent of their ambition.” He promised to continue fighting for higher quality education and defending standards-based reforms—beliefs he launched into action as a former member of the California State Board of Education.
Ricky Gill provided the following answers to questions e-mailed to him by India Post:
IP: Is job growth in agriculture dependent on Federal initiatives?
Ricky Gill: Job growth is primarily a function of private investment, especially the creation and expansion of small businesses. Whether it is the siphoning of water away from rural counties or the imposition of unnecessary regulations, the federal government has at times impeded job growth in local agriculture. However, there is also a positive role for the federal government to play. Through the federally approved Farm Bill and trade agreements negotiated with other nations, Congress and the federal government can help ensure that investment in agriculture increases and that our agriculture products find markets overseas.
IP: You seem to relate economic recovery to improving schools. How is that?
RG: I believe that public education is the single best investment we can make to ensure that America remains a competitive force in the global economy. Unfortunately, fiscal imbalance and irresponsibility have produced steep budgets cuts in public education, which has resulted in students not receiving the high-quality education they deserve.
IP: What do you have in mind for schools reform?
RG: As a former member of the California State Board of Education, I represented nearly seven million public school students in this state. I witnessed the problems that result when students are shuffled through the system without achieving at acceptable levels. I believe parents have an important role to play in education reform and deserve a choice in the schools their children attend. I would like to see greater accountability at the local and school-site level.
IP: How do you relate to the Indian community? What can they hope from your candidature?
RG: I am proud to be an Indian-American. The values of family, hard work and education, although universal, have particular resonance in our culture. They have been indispensable in my journey thus far, and will continue to be so.
IP: Are you critical of Obama’s healthcare plans?
RG: My family has been deeply involved in the American healthcare system for several decades. We must do more to reform this system. We can reduce healthcare premiums by fostering competition in the insurance industry, enacting medical malpractice tort reform and encouraging the creation of an easily accessible market for generic drugs.
IP: On immigration, what do you have to say on the Tri Valley University scandal, which led to the suffering of so many Indian students?
RG: Indian immigrants have enjoyed success in the United States, playing an important role in society and adding value to our economy. I support legal immigration to the United States. I also believe that Congress needs to retool our skilled immigration policy by providing opportunities for law-abiding foreign students to remain in the US to work after earning graduate degrees in important fields like engineering and mathematics.
IP: You don’t seem to see any role for India in the Afghan conflict. Does India matter in your region?
RG: India is the world’s largest democracy and has a substantial role to play in Afghanistan and around the globe. India should leverage its democratic experience to aid the Afghan transition to democracy. Instability in the region is a national security issue for both the United States and India, and we should work together to build the foundations for a stable Afghanistan.
India Post News Service