Upendra Chivukula, an engineer, husband, and father who serves as a Deputy Speaker in the NJ General Assembly, spoke to Tejinder Singh about his experience, his vision and his quest to run for Congress.
Welcome to India America Today! Lets start with the pertinent question – why are you running for Congress?
America has given me a great opportunity to do well in my professional career, to raise a family of two children with my wife of nearly 36 years. I feel it is time for me to use my problem-solving skills to serve families who are struggling in this difficult global economy.
I want to come up with solutions, work across party lines to make life better for Americans, especially New Jerseyans living in congressional district 7. I am concerned about the economy, education for our children, healthcare, tax system, and the continuing debt.
What’s important to you now? In the next 2 years?
The federal government needs spending cuts and new tax revenue to tame the soaring deficit that is consistent with Simpson Bowles Commission, a bipartisan commission.
I fully agree with Warren Buffett, who said that income inequality has grown drastically in the last decades. “The real problem we have is we’re taking in too little money and we’re spending too much, and that’s not going to be solved by voluntary contributions,” Warren Buffett said.
We cannot afford to be out of touch with the lives and aspirations of working Americans, while we duly recognize the success of the wealthiest in our society.
What is important to me in the next two years is to ensure that every American has the same opportunities I did and by continuing to invest in education, solve the challenges imposed by need for energy, create opportunities for those who wish to start a small business to create jobs.
Creativity, common sense, courage to embrace change – this is what is needed as we continue to move forward into the 21st century. If I have learned anything in Trenton, and what I will continue to fight for in Washington, are the kitchen table issues that impact the working families of NJ and the 7th congressional district every day. That will be the Chivukula day one agenda in Washington, and every day I am privileged to be sent to represent New Jersey and the 7th District.
Can you give our readers a glimpse into what you have been doing in your public life?
Serving the community through grass root organizations, I was appointed a Public Member of the New Jersey State Board of Social Work Examiners from 1994 to 1997. After being encouraged by my friends and supporters, I ran for public office and was elected to the town council and became Mayor of Franklin Township.
During my term, I addressed the needs of my constituents and ensured stable taxes and a thriving economy.
In 2002, I was elected to the New Jersey Legislature, and have since worked full time to accomplish real change for the citizens of New Jersey. I have fought for education reform, and championed legislation that led to increases in business investment and the creation of thousands of jobs in New Jersey.
My colleagues in the New Jersey General Assembly have recognized my leadership qualities, and the Speaker appointed me as a Deputy Speaker and Chair of the Telecommunications & Utilities Committee. I also serve as a member of the Homeland Security and Transportation Committees.
Appointed to the National Council of State Legislatures, a national organization serving all the 50 states, I serve on various committees, and also served on the executive committee.
What has been your personal journey after coming to the US?
I came as a graduate student to study electrical engineering at City College (CUNY) and decided to settle down in America with a great hope to succeed. Coming from India, leaving behind the family, with very little money, I learned what it is to take risks in life and also what it is to fight to succeed.
Working in the private sector for more than 30 years and in government as an elected official at the local and state level for nearly 15 years has helped me to have a clear understanding about the challenges faced by middle-class America.
Thank you very much for your time and we look forward to Tuesday, November 6, 2012, when Americans will have the opportunity to elect one of the most outstanding, accomplished, and highly qualified Americans, Upendra Chivukula.