As yet another sign of the rising number of Indian-American women getting into politics and trying for public office, Natasha Gupta, a Silicon Valley professional, kicked off her campaign Sept. 14, for the California State Assembly seat from District 25.
The kick-off was held in Milpitas, California, where Gupta outlined her platform, and featured as guest speaker, another Indian-American, Milpitas City Councilmember Rishi Kumar.
Gupta, who founded ‘Silicon Valley for Pete’ as a supporter of presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg, mayor of South Bend, Indiana, is running in a district where the incumbent Kansen Chu is retiring.
The online news site Milpitasbeat.com, called Gupta ‘an outsider’ but noted that Gupta ran one of Buttigieg’s “biggest independent teams here in Silicon Valley.”
A host of candidates is in the running for the seat Gupta has laid her eyes on. According to the East Bay Citizen, the following candidates are in the running from District 25, which includes the cities of Fremont, Newark, Milpitas, San Jose and Santa Clara, all having a visible Indian-American presence: Bob Brunton, a Republican, and former Ohlone College trustee; Jim Canova, a Democrat from Santa Clara; Karina Dominguez, vice mayor of Milpitas; Alex Lee, a Democrat who has served as a legislative aide; Roman Reed, also a Democrat, on the Fremont Planning Commission; and Anna Song, Democrat on the Santa Clara County Board of Education.
EBcitizen.com also reports that Raj Salwan, a Democratic Councilmember of Fremont City Council has expressed an interest in jumping in, as has Rich Tran, the mayor of Milpitas, also a Democrat.
The party primaries are on March 3 next year.
At her kick-off, Gupta launched an official campaign video available on Facebook. In her speech, also posted on Facebook, Gupta notes she is “fresh out of organizing for a grassroots group,” and therefore has a “real appreciation for the time and the effort that you guys are putting out of your own day to put towards this cause, because what we are in the battle for is really a moral reckoning within our country, and California is so uniquely positioned to lead the fight.”
Prior to officially launching her campaign, Gupta went on a petition drive to collect at least a thousand signatures as required by law, to register as a candidate.
“Volunteers are the lifeblood of our 100% people powered campaign! No corporate PACs, no special interests, no lobbyists, because we are here to lead the fight for moral leadership!#LeadTheFight #Gupta2020,” she says on the website.
The 28-year old Gupta is married to Michael Hsueh.
According to her bio on gupta2020.com, the Indian-American candidate was born and raised in the Bay Area, to parents from India who came for work and higher education to the U.S. and settled in Danville, where Gupta attended public school. She has studied Environmental Policy at the University of California, San Diego, graduating in 2013. After graduation, she pursued a career in Silicon Valley and moved to San Jose.
Gupta’s “first taste” of political activism began with volunteering for Barack Obama’s first presidential campaign when she was a senior in high school, according to the bio.
“When he spoke about a brown kid with a funny name having a place in America too, it was the first time anyone acknowledged that people like me were also part of the broader American story,” Gupta says.
The turning point in her decision to run was the recent Gilroy Garlic Festival shooting which for her hit home personally, because she had gone the day before with her husband, the website says.
“It showed me that even in California, the divisions of our country showed up at our front door. I couldn’t stop thinking that it could have been us. I couldn’t believe that it could happen here.” She felt compelled to take action.
Natasha’s platform focuses on housing, infrastructure, income inequality, addressing housing for the homeless, and “complete reform” of the cost of college. She supports the healthcare plan- California Care for All as a public option, and a statewide Green New Deal, ending gun violence and domestic terrorism.
“We’re in a crisis of leadership at the top. Waiting for our federal government to change is not enough– we have to start at the state level,” is Gupta’s opening sentence on her campaign website.