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Rishi Kumar could be the 5th Indian American in United States Congress

Rishi Kumar could be the 5th Indian American in United States Congress
December 12
15:43 2019

RITU MAHESHWARI
India Post News Service

Political pundits are calling Rishi Kumar, current councilmember of Saratoga in his 2nd term, the first serious Democratic challenger in 28 years for Congresswoman Anna Eshoo’s re-election bid. Rishi is running as an upstart in this race with a very solid branding in Silicon Valley as a hi-tech executive, not a career politician, and someone who was re-elected in 2018 with the most votes in Saratoga’s election history. Rishi has also been politically active within the California Democratic Party and is currently an Executive Board Member and Delegate representing his district AD28.

Earlier this year in February, Rishi announced his run for the United States House of Representatives to represent Silicon Valley in Washington from California’s District 18. Since then Rishi’s campaign has established a strong presence with the district residents.

Rishi has already met with neighbors in each of the 31 cities of his district which include far flung corners of the coastline in Santa Cruz and San Mateo county. Rishi is also hosting 3 face-to-face town hall meetings every month in each of the three counties of the district which has never happened in this congressional district in decades.

Rishi has clearly demonstrated a keen interest in the people of the district from the tiniest cities like Loma Mar to the most populous city of the district, San Jose. A people-centric branding is what Rishi clearly has today in Saratoga, demonstrated by his strong win last year. Rishi has pledged to remain unbought, will never accept any PAC money or Special Interest Group money, whereas his democratic opponent Rep Eshoo is the #1 recipient of Pharma money in Congress and has passed legislation that has increased the price of healthcare, such as the 12-year exclusivity period for biologic drugs, beyond the length of their patents.

On November 27th, Rishi Kumar filed papers to be on the ballot in the March 3rd, 2020 primary elections. Rishi excitedly announced to his supporters after taking the oath at the Santa Clara County Registrar of Voters. “I arrived to this country on a F1 student visa for mechanical engineering graduate school.

I am now running for United States Congress. How improbable! Only because America lets you dream, dream big, and every dream seems so within reach. I am honored at this opportunity to define a new Silicon Valley future as it’s next congressman, to fight for Silicon Valley and represent the great people of our nation”.

Rishi has redefined the politics of Saratoga running two amazing grassroots campaigns the scale of which Saratoga had never witnessed before. Saratogans embraced Rishi for his fierce people-centric behavior, dynamic energy and innovation as a public servant who is willing to take charge and resolve their tough challenges.

There were letters published last year during Rishi’s re-election run calling Rishi as “the best councilmember seen in 50 years.”  

Rishi’s leadership as Saratoga’s councilmember during his first term, led to 7 water rate proposals of San Jose Water Company being either rejected reduced or suspended. This has benefited a million residents from the cities of San Jose, Los Gatos, Monte Sereno, Campbell and Saratoga. Rishi calls his council agenda as providing services “cheaper, faster, better.”  An example of his innovation – he rolled out a water app to send quick water rates protest emails to CPUC.

When Rishi saw a rise in Saratoga burglaries, he held over 100 neighborhood meetings, built crime awareness, rolled out an easy to reference “Top 25 Safety Tips” informational doc, launched more than 50 Neighborhood Safety Watch Programs and helped drop burglaries by 41%, the largest drop compared to any Silicon Valley city, with some out of the box approach.  The Indian American population in Saratoga is only about 10% of the total population, and his historic re-election win last year, where he even beat the mayor with a huge margin, lends us to believe that Rishi was representing and addressing the top challenges of every citizen of Saratoga. 

We asked Rishi about his political agenda and policies for the congressional run. Rishi explained, “Politics today in this country has gone astray. Lobbyists and special interest groups are defining the agenda of American people. But we have significant issues affecting us today that needs diligent leadership; a legacy healthcare system based on a foundation of greed gone rampant, 700,000 opioid related American deaths,  an existential climate change crisis, a housing/ homelessness challenge, transportation logjams, burglaries and a data privacy challenge.

I am not an “establishment” politician. I do not thrive on lobbyists and special interest group campaign contributions. I am an activist who is always willing to take on a fight on behalf of the people. Yes, I am different! I believe I can truly impact the tough challenges with a pragmatic real world perspective and applying the hi-tech innovation framework to deliver real results to my community, just like my track record in Saratoga.”

There have been a few press reports about Rishi’s accident in September earlier this year; the bumper impact at a Cupertino traffic light at 5mph. We asked Rishi if this was politically orchestrated based on all the visibility and attention that this traffic accident received, in comparison to the congressional run that had largely gone unnoticed for a good 9 months.

Why was a serious challenger to a veteran congressperson who will be in office for 28 years next year being completely overlooked? Rishi was gracious in his reply. “Thanks to all my well-wishers and supporters for all the messages over the past few weeks. Yes, I was involved in a traffic accident in September. Thankfully no one was hurt. The traffic incident was resolved as a vehicle code infraction. This was not a moving violation.”

Rishi’s excitement about the congressional campaign was apparent as he elaborated, ”We continue with our push to define a new vision for Silicon Valley challenges with a solid grassroots campaign. Hundreds of friends and activists from every part of Silicon Valley are engaged towards this effort. We have come a long way and have gotten a keen sense of the issues of our district thanks to hundreds of conversations with district residents. Our residents do not want an “invisible representative,” but accessible, authentic and responsive representation.

Not all Democrats are the same. This race is about a Washington insider who gets a lot of Big Pharma money and has passed legislation increasing our prescription drug price, versus my people-centric agenda. This race is about tech knowledge versus technological illiteracy, about “getting things done” versus status quo “lobbyist-driven” politics. The politics in Washington has suppressed the voice of the people and special interests are having a field day. This certainly does not work well for the interest of American citizens. Enough is enough! It’s time for a change!”

We asked Rishi what would he like to change if he made it to Washington representing Silicon Valley’s tech community and a bustling Silicon Valley economy. “Silicon Valley deserves leadership with a track record of fighting for people, not taking cues from special interests. We need elected leaders with a firm grasp of our innovation economy, and who will be ready to take up the challenges of an AI/ML based autonomous economy. We need leaders who will ensure the valley’s technology domination. This is not business as usual. We need elected leaders with passion and energy. We are ready to take charge!”

Rishi invited the Silicon Valley community to join his grassroots campaign. “As your next congressman, I will fearlessly tackle our tough challenges with fierce political courage and  independent people-centric behavior. Please join our grassroots team; join our Saturday morning “Breakfast of Campaigns” and discover a leadership opportunity that will change your life.” 

Rishi will need to finish in the top 2 in the March primary election to qualify for the general election of November 2020. Silicon Valley definitely needs elected leaders who will shirk lobbyists to work fiercely and boldly addressing the challenges of our district with a vision for a better tomorrow. Rishi certainly has the calibre and attitude, and brings a track record of doing exactly that. Primary elections are on March 3rd, 2020. Rishi’s campaign website is www.RishiKumar.com

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