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Voter's Edge California Voter Guide
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Tuesday November 8, 2022 — California General Election
United States

U.S. House of RepresentativesCandidate for District 16

Photo of Rishi Kumar

Rishi Kumar

Councilmember/Hi-Tech Executive
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My Top 3 Priorities

  • I will champion Medicare for All and protect Women’s Reproductive Rights. I will legislate Roe (v. Wade), push back against burgeoning healthcare costs, and fight the rising drug prices.
  • I will not sell out. The campaign money from PACs and Special Interest Groups is subverting the agenda of the American people as politicians stay too long, do very little, and sell out very easily. https://rishikumar.com/bigmoneyinpolitics
  • I have taken the “Term Limits Pledge”. When meeting neighbors, I constantly hear a yearning for new leaders with fresh ideas. https://rishikumar.com/termlimits

Experience

Experience

Profession:Councilmember, hi-tech executive and father
Hi-tech executive roles in Silicon Valley's software industry, IBM, Cisco, Solix and many other startups (2000–current)
Councilmember, City of Saratoga, Saratoga City Council — Elected position (2014–current)

Education

University of Connecticut M.S, Mechanical Engineering (1994)

Biography

 ☆ I am currently a Silicon Valley hi-tech executive, a mechanical engineer by education, and a candidate for the U.S. House of Representatives (CA-16).
I am currently serving my second term as a Saratoga City councilmember.
I was elected with the most votes in my city’s election history.
In the November 2020 election, we were humbled and honored to have received more votes than any other challenger in the last 30 years of this congressional district and we are honored to be running again - back for victory 2022.

Who supports this candidate?

Questions & Answers

Questions from League of Women Voters of California (4)

What legislation, if any, would you support to reduce American greenhouse gas production?  Please explain the reasons for your position.
Answer from Rishi Kumar:

We are seeing the impact climate change is having here in California through recurring wildfires and droughts.

We have a chance to grow our economy and create thousands of new jobs by harnessing the power of green and alternative energy. I support the Green New Deal approach to reduce greenhouse gas production.  Congress must play a critical role in supporting these industries and maintain our competitive edge in the global economy, ensuring that windmill manufacturers, solar panel makers, and biofuel producers have the support they need to grow. We have to wean the United States off of fossil fuels and curb planet-warming greenhouse gas emissions across our planet.

 ☆Decarbonization of the economy

Clean energy is not enough. We need to explore aggressive options to restore our planet to a livable climate. Humans have been increasing levels of CO2 in the atmosphere by burning fossil fuels and deforestation. CO2 levels have gone from 317 ppm (parts per million) in 1955 to 412 ppm today and rising continuously, predicted to reach 450 ppm by 2040. We are heading to a point of no return. We need fast intervention and focused investment that is “cheapter, faster, better” to reduce the CO2 levels. The planet cannot wait! We should consider options such as direct air capture systems that will operate with high levels of efficiency and outpace trees to reduce  atmospheric levels of CO2. We cannot rely upon just planting trees and depending on their slow carbon absorption alone. The state of the climate is dire! We have been handing out trillions of dollars during the pandemic, but our climate demands an immediate focus. We should consider various options such as ocean photosynthesis in algae or seaweed, which is how nature removed CO2 from the environment before the ice ages. As your congressional representative, I will not only support resolutions such as H.Con.Res 52 and H.Con.Res. 137, but also demand action that will ensure a large-scale mobilization to halt and reverse the increasing CO2 levels in the atmosphere. 

 ☆Federal jobs guarantee and public investment
We all know that government spending stimulates the economy, spending creates growth,  and results in tax revenue that pays for the original spending. The federal government must invest in green tech and climate friendly infrastructure. This will create jobs for millions of Americans and put them into professions creating a revitalized economy that can operate without pollution or fossil fuels.

☆Food sustainability: The 2023 farm bill
The nation’s food supply is a national security issue and should be part of the federal government’s agenda. Americans could clearly feel the financial stress of increased grocery bills during the COVID-19 pandemic. If elected, I will be a strong proponent of indoor agriculture, aquaculture, regenerative agriculture, and vertical farming.

☆ In summary, we must promote and create jobs in a clean-tech economy. Clean air, chemical free food, and water standards are a basic necessity for America. We need government investment in policies and projects that would change the way we design buildings, travel, and eat.

Should immigration laws be changed?  What changes would you support?  Please explain why.
Answer from Rishi Kumar:

The Biden administration should extend Title 42: Migrants attempted to cross the U.S.-Mexico border at the highest level in two decades as the U.S. prepares for even larger numbers with the expected lifting of Title 42.

Immigrants are the strength of this country. It sickens me to see the human rights violations committed against them at the southern border, the atrocities of detention camps, and the cruel separation of families that follows deportation. Hearing of unconsented medical procedures upon migrant women in ICE detention centers is shocking! I will do everything in my power to prevent such abominations from occurring in our country. First and foremost, I will fight to protect immigrant rights in our justice system, and help ingrain them into our economy under a legal and equitable standing.

To make immigration more effective, I will strive to address any ongoing issues with our H-1B visa program and to restore it to its original intent: protecting all workers from systemic abuses by profit-driven companies and increasing the pool of talented and high-skilled foreign workers that will further America’s economic success.

We also need to help immigrants take essential steps towards becoming permanent residents. Immigrants are beneficial both socially and economically to America; we need immigration visa reform, including HR 1044, that will increase opportunities for qualified individuals to achieve permanent residency and citizenship in a timely manner.

As Congress Member what, if any, policies or legislation would you support to preserve democracy for all US residents?
Answer from Rishi Kumar:
Rishi Kumar has a strong track record of speaking up for civil rights and defending disenfranchised and minority communities. Systemic racism is older than our nation, and it continues to manifest itself in modern day society. “I believe in a diverse and pluralistic American society that follows the principles of the First Amendment. I believe that the multi-cultural melting pot makes America stronger, successful, and more vibrant. I will strongly oppose any form of hate against any group, including the LGBTQ+ community and Black Lives. My policies in Congress will be driven by the philosophy that every group strengthens and improves our society. I will always work hard to protect our disadvantaged communities. As your congressional representative, I will work to ensure that the United States remains cohesive and our diversity of thoughts leads to unity, not division. My upbringing as a Hindu follows the Gandhian “Hinduism is a philosophy of life,” and the all-inclusive Vasudaiva Kutumbakam (the world is one connected family) approach. Leading with ‘One Connected Family’ as my guiding principle, I have worked very hard to make Saratoga a strong, close-knit, and collaborative community that brings all of our neighbors together to elevate the happiness index of Saratoga while collaborating to solve some of its toughest challenges. I follow the ideologies of Mahatma Gandhi and Dr. Martin Luther King. I believe in respecting and embracing differences and nonviolent conflict resolution, both as a creed and strategy. My upbringing was as a Hindu, my K-12 education was in a Jesuit school and I regularly visited the church on campus, while also visiting mosques, synagogues, and gurudwaras with an openness based on the accepting culture of Bombay where I grew up. I strongly oppose any form of hate against any group, religion, or community. I am against any form of discrimination such as Christophobia, Islamophobia, anti-Semitism, Sikhphobia, xenophobia, Hinduphobia, homophobia, and transphobia. My policies in Congress will be driven by the philosophy that every group and religious entity strengthens and improves our society.”
The Federal Government plays a part in California water allocation and use through a variety of projects and laws.  What, if any, new programs or projects or reforms to existing programs and projects would you support in an effort to handle water shortages caused by the current and any future drought?
Answer from Rishi Kumar:

As a council member of Saratoga, I led the Water Oversight Committee efforts to combat the San Jose Water Company from unnecessary rate increases - find the summary here. As your congressman, I will continue to protect the people of Silicon Valley from artificially high water rates. We must build a future plan to address the growing population needs of the Bay Area. An infrastructure plan has to be in place.

 

California’s water problem fix

Rishi Kumar is committed to address the water challenges of California, particularly Silicon Valley. It is very important that Silicon Valley has a sustainable urban community given that the American economy hinges upon Silicon Valley’s success

Currently, California lacks the tools to enforce sturdy oversight and management over the use of water. Many of the submitted plans ever since the introduction of the 1983 Urban Water Management Planning Act have neglected the importance of supply and demand. Their approach also lacks incentives for conservation. Regulation should be as narrowly tailored as possible as centralized water policies can easily overlook the intricate, regionalized needs of the state. Submitting plans to the California Department of Water Resources should be required instead of voluntary. The plans should permit “local entities to control extractions from the groundwater basin.” This will help us directly tackle the continuous droughts that affect the safety of Californians. According to the Public Policy Institute of California, we must implement “water adequacy screening for new development” which would ensure housing growth simultaneously. For long-term water planning, we must implement sustainable policies and look to new sources of water supply such as “underground storage, recycling, and desalination.” We must also improve California’s groundwater management as some parts of the state struggle with full groundwater utilization, leading to problems of overdraft (averaging between 1 and 2 million acre-feet per year, according to the Water Education Foundation) that are associated with higher energy costs, toxicity, and land subsidence. This can be accomplished by reauthorizing the 2014 Sustainable Groundwater Management Act in order to distinguish between surface water and private property rights as well as to require details about how much water an individual can pump.

 

Potential Projects

Here are the projects that I am advocating

  • Finish retrofitting and expand capacity of the Anderson Dam
  • Expand Los Vaqueros Reservoir under Contra Costa Water District’s Proposal
  • Expand Pachecho Reservoir from 5,500 to 140,000 acre feet
  • Accelerate the Temperance Flat Project on the San Joaquin River
  • California should reignite project discussions regarding the damming of rivers, which would result in more than 1,000 reservoirs. California should re-evaluate the benefits of boosting water flows for fish and creating recreational opportunities such as boating
  • Call for the active collaboration of the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission, Santa Clara Valley Water District, and East Bay Municipal Utility District to come up with a master plan to ensure the future sustainability of Silicon Valley
  • Push the Santa Clara Valley Water district to build a new Pacheco Pass reservoir in collaboration with the San Benito County Water District

Who gave money to this candidate?

Contributions

Total money raised: $225,032

More information about contributions

Source: MapLight analysis of data from the Federal Election Commission.

Political Beliefs

Political Philosophy

I love a good principled fight for the people and I will never sell out!

As a hi-tech executive, I was transferred by IBM to Silicon Valley from Michigan and I absolutely love it here. My wife, a networking industry professional, and I are raising our two boys and found our American dream in Saratoga. We also discovered a deep joy in giving back, solving the problems of our community, and helping to better people's lives. That is why I am running for Congress. 

As a Mechanical Engineer, elected leader, and community activist, I was keenly interested in tackling tough challenges and delivering results. I reduced burglaries, defeated many San Jose Water Company rate hikes, challenged PG&E’s gutting of California’s solar program, pushed for the audit of HCD’s RHNA numbers, stopped a massive hotel in an environmentally sensitive zone, and stopped a road repair tax by favoring fiscal optimization measures.

I am NOT a Washington insider or career politician entrenched with lobbyists. I understand Silicon Valley's innovation economy as a hi-tech executive and will ensure our standing as the innovation capital of the world. I plan to address the tech exodus, with companies and our talent pool finding their way to greener pastures. Washington is inept, not only with tech, but also regarding challenges of today such as California wildfires, women’s reproductive rights, water infrastructure, housing, transportation, rising crime rates, and inflation.

My run for Congress is about bringing back integrity and a “getting-things-done” approach to public service. It is about addressing the challenges of today’s America:championing Medicare for All, legislating Roe,  and cleaning up Washington by rejecting special interest money and influence. I would be honored to have your vote in the primary election on June 7, 2022.

Videos (3)

The Mega Silicon Valley Vision Plan

 

  • Create and upgrade the use of public transit technology and bring our infrastructure into the 21st Century with high speed, eco-friendly, energy efficient, noise free and pollution-free transportation - not the bullet train.
  • Encourage tech corporations to invest in Silicon Valley infrastructure through P3 (public-private partnership) agreements. P3 agreements can allow faster and more efficient development of needed infrastructure projects at lower cost and less risk to the taxpayer.
  • Establish a regional housing enterprise that spreads housing out to cities in the nine-county bay area (phase 1) and eventually to 21 counties around Silicon Valley (phase 2)
  • Bring federal funds to help pay for California’s needed infrastructure improvements. California drives the American economy. We deserve America’s investment.
— April 22, 2022 Kumar for Congress

While many point to the recent Russia-Ukraine conflict as the sole cause of our high gas prices, the sentiment is actually incorrect as gas and oil production was already decreasing far before the conflict. In 2020, the amount of active US oil rigs reached an all time low with the pandemic and although since then they have been steadily increasing we are not even at the same level as the active oil rigs in 2019.  

Over $30billion since 2015 in Mystery Gasoline Surcharge: Californians have contributed billions of dollars annually in fees and no one know where that money is going. Is this the “Office Space” fraction of pennies algorithm at work. We have to stop it. $4 billion. per year in 2021 that we cannot account for. 

California's proposal to announce a $400 rebate proposal for every taxpayer in the state amid increasing gas prices is only a start. But the fees and taxes are a bit much.

The danger here is: rising natural gas prices could raise electricity and home heating bills. The increasing costs for transportation, power and heat would all contribute to inflation, which is already at its highest rate in 40 years in the U.S.

00:01 Opening Statement 02:30 What role, if any, should the government play in helping Americans gain health insurance? 03:53 What is your view of the Digital Services Act just passed by the European Union? Should we consider such services? 04:50 How would you use your federal position to address local issues such as the housing crisis? What resources would you use to address the housing crisis? 05:46 What more can Congress do to combat climate change? 06:40 How concerned are you about how polarized our country has become? Is our democracy at risk? What plans do you have to guarantee our democratic future? 07:18 How would you address the economic pressures facing America? Gas prices and economic inflation are big issues. 08:24 In light of the recently leaked Supreme Court document regarding Roe v. Wade, what would you do if you were in Congress? 08:55 What support can you bring to BART, high speed rail, highways, and related infrastructure? 09:45 What will you do specifically to make coast side constituents feel represented? How will you deal with issues such as coastal erosion, beach overcrowding, and other issues specific to this area? 10:37 Closing Statement

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