NEW YORK: Republican candidate Hirsh Vardhan Singh, 32, reckons if even 50 percent of the South Asian Diaspora voters come out to vote for him June 6 in the primaries for the gubernatorial elections in New Jersey, he could well be on the way to be the first Indian American governor of the state.
Singh, a successful businessman and engineer, is a political novice with no experience of elected office. But he’s determined to improve the lives of New Jersey residents by a slew of measures, including cutting taxes, especially property taxes – the highest in the US; strategic infrastructure development, which would boost manufacturing jobs too; medical malpractice and tort reform; tax cuts for small businesses; legalization of cannabis, and counter hate crimes by ‘educating’ mainstream masses of the valuable contribution of the Indian American Diaspora – how they are an asset, help create jobs, build America’s economy.
“We don’t want Jon Corzine 2.0”, said Singh, in an interview to News India times, explaining he’s running for the top office in the state because he felt compelled to revive the state, and its gloomy economic outlook, eradicate corruption.
This year, there are only two gubernatorial elections in the US – in New Jersey, and Virginia. Both states will see a new face once the votes are in and counted. Both Gov. Chris Christie, in New Jersey, and Gov. Terry McAuliffe, in Virginia, are not eligible to run for re-election due to term limits.
“I went to couple of business leaders and urged them to run to solve the problems of the state; told them I would serve them in any capacity, but for some reasons they couldn’t run,” explained Singh. “Atlantic County (where’s he from in New Jersey) is leading in foreclosures in the country. As an engineer you go directly where the problem is. If you have to fix something you go to where the problem is,” he added.
Singh, an executive and engineer working in the aerospace and defense industry, has managed programs providing aviation safety and security in the National Airspace System, National Missile Defense Program, and supporting military intelligence, communication systems development and satellite navigation systems engineering.
Singh, who says he’s raised a million dollars so far – only behind Lt. Gov. Kim Guadagno, a Republican too – doesn’t have qualms in saying that unlike other candidates in the race, he has a good relationship with the Trump administration, would welcome President Donald Trump campaigning for him.
“President Trump had good things to say about the Indian American community,” Singh, who attended public high school in Egg Harbor Township and has an engineering degree from the New Jersey Institute of Technology, said, reminiscing about the time Trump attended a Republican Hindu Coalition event in the state, before the presidential elections.
Singh says that despite the “unfair” decision to bar him from primary debates – which was due to an alleged technical error with Singh filing late to put his name in after collecting a minimum of $600,000 in his campaign kitty – he’s energized to reach out directly to the voters.
“We were treated unfairly, this was a political decision,” he said of the decision to bar him from debates. “But the main thing is that people don’t pay attention to the debates, nobody really watches it. We are now reaching out directly to voters and getting as great response.”
Asked how he will counter the ugly rise of race crimes, Singh said the people of New Jersey “should not confuse” the Indian American population with other Diasporas.
“The people of New Jersey should understand the Indian American are the doctors, engineers, lawyers, the ones who own the small businesses and the franchises, we provide jobs to others,” he said.
“The increase in hate crimes and incidents throughout the country need to stop. These issues are because of negative press against all immigrants. When I am Governor, I would like to address this issue head-on both at the state level and nationally,” he added.
Singh comes from an illustrious family in India, with plenty of high political and military connections. His great grandfather, Col. Girdhari Singh, received a Military Cross from the British Empire for his bravery in North Africa, and is considered a national treasure; other relatives include a freedom fighter in India who was friends with Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru, and his grandfather Dr. Naunihal Singh became a Rajya Sabha MP, after living for long in the US.
Hirsh’s father Tribhuvan Singh is a successful businessman, and has established a multi-million-dollar technology consulting company which supports several US government departments and agencies, including the Department of Homeland Security and the Department of Defense. His mother, Nandita Singh, is a professional in the technology arena too.
Singh is confident of securing the Republican nod in the primaries, but he’s depending on the Indian and South Asian American voters to help him in his endeavor.
“The main thing is we have the largest Indian and South Asian American voters in New Jersey, most of all the 50 states. Even if half of those voters are able to come out to vote, we will win everything. Their support is worth more than they understand,” said Singh.
Hirsh Singh’s Election Platform
We plan to lower taxes to let you keep more of what you earn and bring jobs back to New Jersey. Our tax plan includes:
Freeze property tax hikes and work on implementing a cap on the property tax at a maximum of 75% above the national average to bring down current rates across the state and prevent a slow creep to unsustainable levels.
Abolish the inheritance tax, which affects more people than the estate tax, and is one of the highest in the nation at 16%.
Repeal the $.23 gas tax and work to reduce government spending.
Work on minimizing taxes for small and midsized businesses.
Despite one of the highest spending levels per-student in the nation, education for many in New Jersey leaves much to be desired. I will work hard to ensure students across New Jersey have access to better education.
Introduce meaningful school choice reform.
Reform the school funding formula to close the disparity in funding between school districts.
Cut wasteful spending to ensure funding is going to students not administrators or bureaucrats.
Introduce school vouchers programs to give parents more options when choosing how their kids will be educated.
Increase the number of trade schools.
Consolidate our 586 School Districts to 21 separate school districts that align with county lines.
TRANSPORTATION & INFRASTRUCTURE
Infrastructure in the state is in desperate need of repair and new projects have not been possible because of lack of funding. As an engineer and government contractor, I understand how corporations and government work.
Address inefficiencies in the Transportation Trust Fund to cut cost and redirect more funding to projects.
Repeal the gas tax that hurts middle and low-income families the most.
Direct funding from new revenue streams (cannabis legalization) to help maintain our infrastructure.
DRUG LAWS & CRIMINAL JUSTICE REFORM
As we see growing evidence of how new approaches to drug laws have been successful, it’s time for New Jersey to move forward and legalize cannabis. I propose the following changes:
Regulate and tax cannabis like alcohol.
Redirect law enforcement resources to fight serious crimes.
Treat drug addiction as a public health problem allowing for different treatment methods for those in need of help.
Reform penalties for nonviolent drug offenders which have devastated inner city communities and overcrowded our prison system.
I believe in the rule of law, that is why I would fight to end Civil Asset Forfeiture in New Jersey which allows Law Enforcement to seize property without filing charges or getting a conviction.
MEDICAL MALPRACTICE & TORT REFORM
New Jersey has one of the worst litigation environments in the country — which affects the healthcare industry and doctors specifically with frivolous lawsuits and exorbitant malpractice insurance. As Governor, I plan to address these issues in the following manner:
Work to cap malpractice damages.
Allow healthcare practitioners to recoup economic damages from frivolous lawsuits.
Introduce statute of limitation on claims to prevent abuses.