At 21, Indian American Utkarsh Jain is running for California state seat as Republican

Ritu Jha–

At 21, Utkarsh Jain is among the youngest Republicans running for the California State Assembly District 14 seat in the upcoming primary on March 5. He will face incumbent Buffy Wicks (D) and Margot Smith (D).

Jain is a student of economics at the University of California, Berkeley, exploring his interests in finance, economics, politics, sales, consulting, and entrepreneurship. A profile on his website says that “as part of a community of small business owners, he is understanding people’s needs and forging connections.”

Utkarsh Jain (standing fourth from left) meets with Bay Area Republicans and college GOP members

In an interview with indica, he said, “I believe in the power of effective communication, negotiation, and relationship-building to drive successful outcomes. I actively seek opportunities to expand my knowledge of markets, investment strategies, and financial modeling. I thrive on deciphering trends and exploring how economic theories manifest in real-world financial decisions.”

Jain’s parents are first-generation immigrants who came to the US in 1995 from India.

He is the treasurer for the local party unit of Alameda County. Originally from Sacramento, Jain got admission to UC Berkeley in 2021, where began getting involved in politics. “I started getting involved with the college Republicans and made my way up to the party level and then I decided to run,” he said.

Jain said he wants to leverage his knowledge, skills, and interests to pioneer innovative strategies within the financial sector, driving impactful change and fostering sustainable growth. “My ultimate goal is to lead initiatives that bridge gaps between economic theories and practical business applications, empowering organizations to navigate complexities and achieve greater success.”

One reason to contest the elections is to inspire the youth to take up a career in politics. “I think part of the problem was there was no other Republican running and I think I felt that there is a need for youth involvement in politics. So, I decided to champion that message and lead the youth movement and say there are young people here who want to get involved and run for office,” Jain told indica.

“It’s more than winning the seat; it’s about inspiring that movement and getting more people running or involved in politics because it’s going to impact us in the near future. We want to get as many people involved and have as many ideas out there as possible so that we can build a future of our own, and for the country as well.”

While inspiring the youth might be an important reason for his poll entry, Jain says he has joined the fray to alleviate people’s problems. “I am running on issues that I see my friends and other peers face on a daily basis — crime, homelessness, and education. We just had an incident here two or three days ago where a man just walked on the UC Berkeley campus and started shooting. For me, that’s a wake-up call that something’s not right here. Something’s not being done correctly. The fact that this person just walks on campus and opens fire points to a larger problem. I also hear that a lot of students are facing the same issues of crime. People are getting harassed and chased after, a lot of criminals are even running after them into their apartments or dorm rooms. If we can’t be safe, how are we expected to do well in our education? So that’s one of my core issues,” he added.

“And now we have a recall here for the local District Attorney, Pamela Price, which is also a good thing. And we’re championing that message, too. But it all comes down to making sure that things like this don’t happen. Make sure we can get rid of laws like Proposition 47 that reduce punishment for low-level theft and drug offenses. So, anyone can just go ahead and go to Walgreens and shoplift whatever they want, and no one can stop them. That’s absolutely ludicrous and absurd that we have that going on in our society and no one is willing to stop it.”

On homelessness, Jain said, “We have a big homeless population in California. A lot of people are being pushed out because of the economy onto the streets, but a lot of them are drug users. They’re being given drugs, there’s an open-air drug market in San Francisco and Oakland, and it’s coming to Berkeley too. It seems to me that there’s a lack of flourishing within our society in California, and that’s prevalent in the homeless community.”

Jain said homelessness is linked to housing and zoning laws. “Zoning laws, specifically in California, are now managed at the state level. Earlier, a city council would do that. Now the governor’s office is essentially working with developers to dictate how housing should be allocated, and where we should build and what should be built, which is not right. These decisions need to become localized so that communities can understand and assess problems and make their own decisions.”

The housing problem has hit students as well and Jain is concerned. “We have a lot of students at UC Berkeley who can’t afford rents or there’s not enough housing or even dorm rooms for them to stay in. It’s all because the state government thinks that they can’t allocate land for student housing because we need to make sure that these big developers come in and do all these projects.”

He added, “The state government has its own agenda. They’re obviously all Democrats, so they have their own ideology and they want to institute a housing first agenda, which is it sounds good on paper, but in reality it’s not going to really work out.”

Number three on Jain’s agenda is education. “Our education system is bottom of the barrel in the country, we’re 49th in reading and writing and arithmetic. And that’s not good for a state like California, where we have so much innovation, Silicon Valley and all these companies are here. It’s important we work on making sure that education is more accessible. I’m a big advocate for home-schooling, but also for essentially taking control out of the state government and giving money back to the parents to decide where they want their children to be educated, make sure that we can give them that money because we’re spending a lot of money in the state of California for education.”

he added, “The last figure I saw was about $21,000 per pupil, which is astronomical. And yet the results are that we’re 49th in reading, writing, and arithmetic. And our test scores are probably some of the lowest in the country. There’s a mismatch there. And, I think the parents know best where the money should be allocated, whether it’s schooling, extracurriculars, or anything else like that. And they can make sure that they invest where they need to, rather than the state deciding on behalf of thousands and thousands of students across the state.”

Related posts