WHY AM I RUNNING? IT STARTS WITH MY FAMILY'S IMMIGRANT STORY
My father arrived to the United States with a few dollars in his pocket, and a dream. A dream to escape the endless cycle of poverty and economic despair that plagued millions in India during 1960-1970. Dad left his friends, family, and everything he knew behind to start new in America; he always told me how foreign America was to him at first – he didn’t speak the english language, since he came from a Gujarati and Hindi speaking household. When he arrived, being the resourceful man that he was, he found work doing all sorts of retail and service jobs in 1980s Manhattan. Dad didn’t have a formal education, but was scrappy and always found innovative ways in a city full of blue-collar work to provide for our family. My mother stayed back to take care of my brother and I, which was no easy task given how rowdy we were. My brother and I were both born in New York, but my mom and dad quickly realized how difficult it would be to raise two children in one of the most expensive cities in the country. Dad had a few friends and some distant family in Texas, and quickly learned what many Texans know quite well: Texas is a state with endless opportunity, and (back then) affordable housing.
Dad moved us down to Texas and we set up in a little apartment in the Sharpstown / Gulfton area, one of the most diverse corners of Houston, and now in the newly drawn TX CD-07. Dad labored day and night in the blistering Texas heat as a blue-collar warehouse and shipping worker in the heart of Houston’s oil industry, and eventually moved us over to Mission Bend in Fort Bend County. I’m a proud FBISD product, and attended Travis High School in Richmond, TX. I’m also the first in my extended family to attend college; I was blessed and grateful enough to finish Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees at Texas A&M University in College Station, and then went onto complete another Master’s degree with a focus on energy economics, sustainability, and climate + environmental policy at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in Cambridge, MA.
While i've been fortunate, so many others are forgotten by the system, including my late father. The American dream is dead.
That dream of America that my father arrived with was only partially attainable, and like thousands of other Houstonians, the system failed him in his time of need. My father was a proud man, who wouldn’t let a soul know when he was suffering or not doing well – to him adversity was just another hiccup in life’s arduous journey. The cyclical and often unpredictable nature of the oil industry has plagued Houston’s job market for decades, and like many others, he lost his job during the oil downtown of 2016. Dad didn’t tell a soul. He was too proud, and believed that hard work and putting his head down could get him, at his seasoned age of 55, through this hurdle as well. What he didn’t know was the fatal impact losing his health insurance and access to affordable preventative care would have. When dad was laid off from his job, he lost his health insurance, and in the ensuing months, he would drive an uber, and take on half-time contractor roles throughout the city to sustain him and mom. Dad skipped regular check-ups, avoided bloodwork due to its cost, and eschewed expensive prescription medication to keep early diabetes and heart disease at bay; he barely scraped by. The state of his health slowly deteriorated once he couldn’t access affordable medical and preventative care until one day, I got a phone call that my father was gone. That was it. He suddenly died at the age of 56 from a heart attack, only months after losing his health insurance. The entirely family was in the dark, and was shocked. It hurt, a lot.
why is quality healthcare only for the rich?
should houston's economy be so dependent on oil?
The systems in place in this country are inherently designed to deliver profits to large mega-corporations that have their hands in everything, from healthcare, to energy, food, education, and our politics. Medical bankruptcies are the number one cause of bankruptcy in this country. Meanwhile, your elected officials (including the TX-07 incumbent!) take campaign contributions from these same insurance giants that annually post millions of dollars in profits by denying care and coverage to our fellow Americans.
Houston is home to some of the largest oil and gas corporations on earth. I actually started my career off as a young 22-year old in the oil and gas industry, but now I openly face the facts. If humanity, and Houston are to progress, we must work to immediately address the climate crisis and protect our citizens in this city from such a cyclical industry. My career transitioning from oil and gas engineer to renewable energy developer is proof of the possibility of an energy transition, but we need to make this transition happen on a much faster scale. We can no longer allow the same corporations that are polluting our planet, and then profiting off the sale of their petroleum products, to also play a role in our politics, or our city’s future. This campaign’s policies are premised on a new vision for America, one where your zip code doesn’t determine your future, a vision where the color of your skin doesn’t dictate your life’s outcomes, and one where we avoid a climate catastrophe by ensuring our economy and commerce don’t plunder the finite resources of our one and only planet. I’ve spent the last few years of my life at the forefront of climate and energy issues. I’ve worked on and helped build some of the country’s largest wind and solar projects, and have personally taught climate/energy economics and policy. Houston needs bold, innovative leadership to steer it through the climate crisis, and free our economy from the shackles of oil and gas corporations. We need a Green New Houston – learn more here.
In the newly drawn district 07, texas' most diverse congressional district, we deserve bold progressive leaders that fight for us, not special interests or corporate donors.
With the latest round of re-districting, the newly drawn Texas Congressional District 07 spans Fort Bend County, to Mission Bend, Alief, Sharpstown, Gulfton, then further east to Montrose and the Heights. This is now the most diverse congressional district in Texas, with nearly 550,000 residents from communities of color or of immigrant backgrounds; our people deserve representation that’s from our communities and not special interest or corporate PAC backed politicians from affluent River Oaks. In Texas’ most diverse congressional district, which is also now its most unequal, we will not accept dark money, corporate lobbyists, and dishonest politicians buying our elections.
I grew up in Fort Bend County, and Gulfton was my first home in Houston. If we’re going tackle the systemic inequalities that plague the district 07 where Bellaire and West U have million dollar homes, but 30% of families with children live in poverty in Gulfton and Sharpstown, we’re going to have to elect bold, progressive leadership that understands our government should work for all of us, not just the 1% or mega-corporations.
I’m not taking a cent of corporate PAC money or special interest dollars because in the newly drawn district 07, we are creating a movement to return power back to our people.
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