Rain, wind don’t deter Indian American voters in California

Ritu Jha-

Heavy rain and strong winds did not deter Indian Americans in California to head out and vote in the general election on Tuesday.

San Ramon resident Gomes Narayanan, who works in the IT field and a first-time voter said he is a Democrat and was pleased the way the administration is working. His biggest fear? A 2008-like recession and economic decline. “I am really worried. Inflation is an all-time high,” he told indica.

He voted for incumbent California governor Gavin Newsom, who won his re-election defeating Republican challenger Brian Dahle. “I am looking forward to the Presidential race,” he said. “I am a registered Democrat, and I think we have to improve. I understand why they raised the interest rate, but I don’t think raising rates alone will solve the problem.” He voted for the incumbent San Ramon mayor Dave Hudson, though.

Gus Nathan, who came with his wife Malini and 16-year-old daughter Uma, said he and his wife voted for Indian American candidate Dr Dinesh Govindrao, who ran for San Ramon mayor (he lost, stood third). “It did not matter at this point, he is one of us (Indian),” Gus told indica.

Both Narayanan and Gus voted for Proposition 1 in the California ballot, which was to bring the right to abortion into the state constitution.

Gus hopes Governor Newsom runs for a bigger office. On the state front, he said, “My advice is, ‘If you start the road work, finish it on time’.”

Yogi Chugh, long-time Democrat and a supporter of Congressman Ro Khanna who California Congressional District 17, told indica, “I think Ro defines what the district wants from him. The voters support Ro’s messaging around economic patriotism. They are impressed with his message of bringing manufacturing back to the US, and also on the Chip Act and Inflation Reduction Act. The middle class believes Ro is the one person who talks about them.”

Congressman Khanna, who entered the US House of Representatives for the first time in 2018, received an overwhelming 71.4% of the votes whereas his closest rival, Republican Ritesh Tandon received 28.6%.

Congressman Khanna spoke to indica after his win. “I am humbled by the overwhelming support in my district, particularly of the Indian American community. I am excited about serving in my fourth term in Congress and working on job creation in the US and economic revitalization. My first task will be to bring new manufacturing and jobs across America.”

Incumbent Ami Bera received 36,176 votes and defeated Tamika Hamilton, who garnered 28,667 votes. At the time of filing this story, the counting was still on. Rishi Kumar in California Congressional District 16 received 52,223 votes, whereas incumbent Anna G. Eshoo received 74,024.

In the California Assembly, Democrat incumbent Ash Kalra received 60% of the counted votes while Republican Ted Stroll received 17,896 votes or 32 percent.

Another first-time winner is Democrat Jasmeet Bains, representing California State Assembly District 35. She received 10,715 votes which is 58.9 percent and her opponent Leticia Perez received 7,486 votes.

Raj Chahal, councilmember in District 2, Santa Clara City told indica, “We are in a comfortable position with 61% votes. He is facing challenger Larry McColloch.

Shakeel Syed, executive director of the South Asian advocacy non-profit South Asian Network (SAN), said that his organization has helped translate booklets on healthcare access, gender-based violence, and civil rights/civic engagement into four Indian languages – Hindi, Urdu, Punjabi and Bengali.

“We used social media to reach out to Indian Americans in the last two weeks. We provided them information on various proposition measures that will directly or indirectly impact the South Asian community.

Syed said people often ask who to vote for, “but we cannot suggest that. We just explain the proposition and tell people to decide. As a non-profit, we cannot tell people who to vote for.”

He said, “Most of the people we interact with on behalf of South Asian Network are from the low-income group. They work two jobs and have no time to speak with us as they are busy earning money for their families.”

“People ask for and we advocate for comprehensive immigration reform. We cannot tell people who to vote for, but we tell them that we need to vote to bring in change.”

Syed said there is a greater realization about voting and it is important to mobilize. “We need the excitement. In the South Asian community there is greater awareness, more conversation about voting than in the general community.”

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