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Rishi Kumar Answers Questions Top on People's Minds

  1. How did you decide to run for Congress. You are a hi-tech executive. How did you find your way into politics?

    I never imagined that I would ever run for public office. It was for the “other guys” not for me. I was always apolitical growing up, but what I could NOT do was watch something bad happening or a problem emerge and do nothing about it. I have always been an activist at heart. Whether I was raising money for Saratoga Senior Center with a ‘Saratoga’s got Talent’ annual competition, or launching a weekly open-mic at Saratoga’s blue rock shoot to bring in new foot traffic for our downtown business, I have always believed in doing something when a problem came my way. When I engaged with the “Minimum Days” issue at Saratoga Union School District a few years back, folks asked me if I was going to run for the school district board. I was completely flabbergasted by the ask. Serving on Saratoga’s planning commission gave me insight into the inner workings of city operations. Working with our city staff on my neighborhood projects, launching our Neighborhood Safety Watch to address a neighborhood burglary all made me realize that it is relatively easy to “get things done”. If I didn’t do it, who would? I may not have all the answers, but I can shine a light on the problems. The answers always come, exactly what we do in the world of tech. It is important to take the first step. What I discovered along the way was the deep joy that came to the fore when I was helping my community, helping people. I have always said this, “There is so much more fun in giving than taking”. That happiness results from the quest to make the world a better place. I have found my calling in the life of public service.

    I’m running for Congress because I’m tired of seeing career politicians who don’t understand Silicon Valley’s innovation economy. My professional experience is in Silicon Valley’s software industry as a business and technology leader. I understand what it takes for Silicon Valley innovation to succeed and the gains to spread to our middle class and working-class families.

    How can we handle the rigors and prepare our workforce for an autonomous economy built upon Artificial Intelligence and Machine learning? I understand the need to innovate and invest in new technologies in order to ensure a thriving and sustainable future. Silicon Valley must lead the charge with its cutting-edge technology and prepare the next generation to succeed in a 21st century economy. The very future of American success and prosperity is at stake. The stakes are too high to fall behind. America cannot wait!
  2. In your time as a City Council member, you have developed many Neighborhood Safety Watch programs and helped to lower water rates for residents. What made you decide that you wanted to take your policy-making skills to the national level?

    My first four years, I took on two challenges: rising water rates and rising crime. I focused hard on these two challenges seeking to deliver results. Last year, I was re-elected to the Saratoga City Council with the highest number of votes in Saratoga’s election history based on this simple track record.

    Back in 2016, I started pushing back on the many rate increase proposals by San Jose Water Company - the only Saratoga City Council member to do so. With the community’s support, we have reduced, rejected and suspended six rate increase proposals so far that have benefited a million people of Silicon Valley..

    I also led a concerted action plan that lowered crime in Saratoga by 47% with a series of innovative measures and approach. This is the most dramatic drop in comparison to any other Silicon Valley city. I held over 100 neighborhood meetings and focused efforts with many neighborhood leaders of Saratoga towards this goal. . Before I got started, we had three Neighborhood Safety Watch programs in Saratoga. Today, we have over 70. This has allowed our neighbors to connect, communicate and collaborate. We have made Saratoga safer, and raised the happiness index of Saratoga. A connected neighborhood is a happy neighborhood.

    Right now, we live in a time of great polarization and dysfunction. We have so many politicians who are heavily influenced by special interest groups, and not working to truly address the challenges of the American people. We need our elected leaders to work for the people, stand with them with a results-driven agenda. As a councilmember of Saratoga, I believe in listening to the needs of the community. We held coffee meetings almost every weekend in Saratoga. I continue to make it a priority to make myself available to the people by holding three town hall meetings every month across the district, one in each county.

    I have fought to hold powerful institutions accountable. I fight for the people, to alleviate their angst for a better future. Simply put, I seek to get things done. I seek to better the lives of all those in our community.. I take no corporate PAC money or Special Interest Group money, and thus the only interests I represent are those of the people. My campaign is about improving the lives of American people. I am excited about this opportunity to take the success of Silicon Valley and bring it to every part of the United States.
  3. If elected into Congress, what would be the main things you would push for? How would you make sure that Silicon Valley is being well-represented in Congress?

    As I’ve said my campaign is about the American people. I am most passionate about the issues that impact quality of life, and the challenges we face with our innovation economy. In Congress, I will push for healthcare reform against the burgeoning healthcare costs and rising drug prices. The high cost of healthcare is one of the biggest causes of U.S. bankruptcies. Healthcare has become a significant burden for our working families and overshadowed any wage gains. It is time we explored better, cheaper healthcare options for the people of America. It is time we had fearless leaders who will make citizen-centric choices that will improve the lives of every American.

    Let’s talk infrastructure. In our home of Silicon Valley, the epicenter for innovation technology, we are dealing with ever increasing rush hour traffic, increased housing costs, a constant push to ‘build, build, build’ without looking at the consequences to our quality of life. Our millennials cannot afford to live here, families with young children cannot afford to live here.As per a recent Silicon Valley Leadership Group report, a net 165 left the valley in 2017 in comparison to a net 1990 who made our valley their new home in 2015. These are issues that urban areas across the country our facing, but we’re in the Silicon Valley, as innovation leaders, we should lead the charge for better public transportation, and I’m not proposing high-speed bullet trains, I’m talking eco-friendly, energy-efficient public transportation. We need efficient, cost-effective housing and development plans, and when discussing infrastructure we should look at the ways our planning impacts our innovation economy.

    A Mega Silicon Valley vision that seeds Silicon Valley's success, and a startup economy in other parts of California and America will help California and our country’s economic success. Yes, we have to wholistically consider Silicon Valley’s needs with housing, transportation and supporting infrastructure.

    I believe that Climate Change is the most urgent imperative of our time and we have to take firm data-driven action to roll back the impact of climate change. We have to wean the United States from fossil fuels and curb planet-warming greenhouse gas emissions across our planet and in the workplace. We must promote and create jobs in a clean-tech economy. I support the Green New Deal.

    Special Interest Groups and Super PACs have exerted their influence into our political system which has made decision making in Washington convoluted and not in the interest of the American people. The American people see our government only open to large contributors and lobbyists, rather than working directly for them. Our elected leaders should demonstrate a citizen-centric value system and restore trust in our democracy. I will work to remove the big money influence on American politics. That is why I have taken a pledge to refuse Special Interest Groups and PAC campaign contributions.
  4. What is your vision for the United States?

    I see a future United States that is prosperous but also happy and healthy. We see so much dysfunction in Washington because there is a general unwillingness to challenge the powerful institutions of our society. This is hurting our economy and the health of our people as we saw with the recent opioid crisis. We have to change that. It is important for the continued success of American society and to build a sustainable economy that will continue to be the envy of the rest of the world.

    The special interest groups have exerted their influence upon the agenda of the American people and our people’s voice is not heard. Additionally, as evidenced by the Zuckerberg and Pichai congressional hearings, Congress is woefully unaware of the intricacies of the tech economy, which is so vital for our success here in Silicon Valley, but also for America’s economy and the rest of the world

    . Can we jump start the economy in every part of the United States with the special Silicon Valley pixie dust and the special innovation secret sauce? I see a future where all Americans should have access to cheap, high quality healthcare, where they don’t have to make a choice between paying rent, food or healthcare. A new citizen-centric culture should emerge in Washington, where elected officials legislate based on the needs of the people, not the whims of the special interests.

    I hope our nation embraces sustainability, and overcomes the threat of Climate Change, and every citizen, no matter what gender, race or ethnicity, should feel safe, and included within our society. I will work to enact my bold agenda and like I have for the people of Saratoga, I plan to “get things done”.