NEW YORK – Suraj Patel, 34, an Indian American, is running for Congress to challenge Rep. Carolyn Maloney (NY-12, Manhattan, Queens and Brooklyn), so he can “change the Democratic Party as an outsider” and has received $550,000 for his campaign, according to a Queens County Politics report.
Patel told Politics that he wants to focus on engaging the citizens, “especially after the last presidential election. The political establishment is the reason why Donald Trump is in the White House.”
Patel has worked for both Obama for America presidential campaigns in 2008 and 2012 and was a campaign adviser to Hillary Clinton in 2016; he also worked for a mayor in Indianapolis, Indiana.
According to his website, Patel was born in Mississippi and grew up in Indiana. His parents came from India in the 70s.
“When we were little, we spent our summers stocking vending machines and screwing on doorknobs in the motels my family owned, operated, and lived in. Hospitality was in our blood, and as the business grew, my parents always managed to build a bigger table to share what they had, and to support others in their community,” Patel states on his website.
“Today, I’m proud to say I’ve played an active role in growing our hospitality businesses across 14 states, creating thousands of jobs for really awesome people,” he added.
Prior to studying law at New York University, Patel went to Stanford to study political science and after receiving his law degree, he earned a Masters in public policy at Cambridge.
Since then, “I’ve taught as an adjunct professor of Business Ethics at NYU Stern and also host Talks on Law, a continuing education series on civil and voting rights” and in 2008, decided to drop “everything to work for Barack Obama’s campaign because I was inspired by a campaign focused on the future, rather than the past.”
He then stayed with Obama through both his terms after campaign days turned into inauguration days, leading to “planning and traveling with the previous White House staff.”
On his website, Patel talks about the issues he will be addressing if elected, including economic opportunity, social justice, building for the future, Democratic reform and diplomacy first.
“I’m a fighter by default. I’ve volunteered my time as an attorney to protect immigrants facing deportation and travelers stuck at JFK due to the President’s Muslim ban. I serve on the board of an immigrant youth-led organization here in New York called Atlas: DIY, supporting DREAMers,” Patel states on his website adding that he is “focused on recruiting a new generation of bold, progressive leaders to take the reins,” since the last Presidential election.
Patel states that he has an obligation to “get off the sidelines.”
“My family was able to thrive because we had access to opportunities that are being taken away right now. And we’re at an inflection point where we can either look away from what’s happening in our country, or we can address these problems head on,” he says on his website.
For Patel the ‘American dream’ is not just about accomplishments but it is about opportunity, a belief in the equal dignity and worth of every human being.
“It’s about giving people the freedom to go about their lives, and ensuring they have the space to flourish. It’s about bringing the spirit of hospitality into our government, to care for others,” he adds.
Patel told Queens County Politics that he wants his campaign to perform as a startup as “he views the political process as a market and voters as customers participating in a free service,” which doesn’t work anymore.