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Pasadena Star-News: Why I’m Running for Congress

I think a lot about the promise of America to immigrant families like mine. My parents worked hard to put food on our table and made sure my sister and I understood the value of a good education. I was born and raised in Hollywood. After Armenian high school in the Valley, I graduated from UCLA, fell in love with my future husband on the Biden campaign trail in Iowa and earned a doctoral degree in public health. I am my grandfather’s American Dream.

Most recently, I served as the most senior Armenian American at the State Department, focused on working with our global partners to keep our country safe from infectious diseases and to advance international human rights. Never did I think I would need to fight so hard for our values here in the United States — for women to have access to birth control, for people to be treated with respect when they marry.

The challenging times we’re in call for a new era of leaders in Congress. Our rights and freedoms stand at the whim of MAGA extremists who don’t know the lived experience of people not like them, and don’t take the time to learn. We have a far-right Supreme Court that has reversed progress on fundamental American values and the rights of minorities and women.

Yet with all its dysfunction, I’m not cynical about Washington. I’ve seen great things happen in the halls of Congress and I’ve worked hard to drive bipartisan results to lower drug prices, to fund HIV/AIDS treatment  and to curtail war. As Congresswoman Barbara Lee’s legislative director, I wrote bills and advanced policies to extend unemployment insurance, mitigate climate change, advance reproductive rights and bring federal resources to California. My work in the private sector and the State Department has taken me to more than 50 countries to negotiate directly with foreign governments.

I want to take my experience making Washington work better to tackle the root causes of homelessness, eliminate HIV infections in California and bring green union jobs to our state. I want to take my experience working with Republicans to support a roadmap to citizenship, a fairer tax code, more pay for teachers and health care providers and champion small businesses because they are the heartbeat of our towns and cities. And I want to take my experiences working with foreign governments to continue the legacy of Congressman Adam Schiff in his dogged and relentless pursuit of democracy.

Our community is home to one of the most diverse congressional districts in America, but we have many things in common. Many of us are worried about the high cost of health care for our families, paying for groceries, paying off student loans and finding affordable housing. We are facing the existential threats of fentanyl on the streets, crime in our communities and the fear of gun violence that are very real. Because of my deep Washington experience and my work as a community organizer, I am the only candidate in this race with the necessary experience to bring different communities together, stand up to Republican extremists in Congress and protect our values.

Today, my grandfather’s American dream is far from reach for many.  That is why I left the State Department to run for Congress in my hometown district. I’m not a career politician, but my federal experience has shown me how Washington works and what needs to change for people like you and me. I look forward to earning your trust, working together to create a more equal America and keep the American dream alive for our neighbors and future generations.