By Chris Finnie
When interviewing candidates for any office, my first question is always why they’re running.
Why I’m running
Mr. Kumar’s answer was simple, he feels the district needs more progressive representation and somebody who understands today’s technology. He also believes that the post COVID-19 world needs an energetic and innovative approach.
Mr. Kumar identified a lot of priorities on his website. So, I asked what he considered his top three.
He said, “Covid-19 is biggest challenge we have. We’re not yet reconciled to all the challenges that are going to emerge in post covid-19 world. They will probably play out for 3 to 5 years—maybe even longer.”
He elaborated on what some of those challenges might be. “We’re looking at a recession, perhaps even a depression of a magnitude that we haven’t seen before. We have to create jobs and make sure we have a vibrant economy across America.”
But, unlike previous economic downturns, this one stems from a health issue. So he adds, “We will need to develop new sectors like telemedicine and healthcare analytics. It will reduce the cost of healthcare and make it safer. Electronic medical records and analytics would help us identify populations at risk. If we’d had those in place, we would probably not have had to shut down our whole economy as we’ve done with covid-19.”
He also considers trade imbalances to be a part of what needs to change. “We have been compromised as a country when it comes to our safety by relying completely on China for PPE. We need to bring manufacturing back to the United States, especially for critical items like these. We need to reduce our dependency on China.”
The next priority we discussed was climate change. “Transportation pollution is a key component of this. We need to roll out a plan that produces zero greenhouse gasses. That’s the future we need to create for America. It requires a massive investment in infrastructure. But it’s extremely important. People are leaving Silicon Valley because of issues with quality of life, transportation, and housing.”
When I pressed on how he thought that could work, he pointed to a white paper on his website, but also gave me the short version. “When we roll out transportation projects, we would build a point-to-point system that uses hyperloops to connect population centers and employment centers. This is a long-range project. Public-private cooperation will help fund this. This is how they do it in the rest of the world, the private sector runs the projects. They will then collect the fares to pay back the investment. The public sector might maintain it.” I pointed out that some states like Texas have done this and built toll roads, which he did not feel was a good model. It is, however, also the model that former California Schwarzenegger advocated.
He also envisions other technology fixes for commerce and education. “By not having widespread broadband, students are now falling behind. This is not right.
“We don’t need shopping centers everywhere. Malls may turn into warehouses and we’ll have a more robust delivery system. Things are changing and we need to be ready for it.”
We ended the interview with the main message he hopes voters will get.
His main message
“The covid-19 world is going to stress our system. We need leaders who are focused on people and their challenges, and not just responding to lobbyists. 40 to 50 million people are about to be evicted, and that goes back to our leaders not putting together a really good pandemic preparedness plan.
“We need a cultural shift in American politics. We need to get rid of the big money, the dark money, the dirty money. It’s polluting politics and the agenda of American politicians. We need to bring in elected leaders who will operate with energy and integrity to solve some real challenges and do the right thing. I want to make a big difference, and the world needs it.”
To see more about Rishi Kumar, go to his website at www.RishiKumar.com
Chris Finnie has lived in the Santa Cruz Mountains for 25 years. She’s worked as a marketing copywriter for more than 35 years. And has been a local, state, and national political activist for 17 years. She has contributed articles and columns to several local newspapers before happily landing at the San Lorenzo Valley Post at its inception.