An Indian-American professional from Silicon Valley launched her campaign at a well-attended event on Sept. 14 in Cinema Exchange in Milpitas, after announcing her run as Democrat for a seat to be vacated by Kansen Chu in California’s 25th district.
Natasha Gupta, 28, a corporate professional with a background in environmental policy and political activism, is among a host of candidates in the fray, from the district that encompasses parts of the South and East Bay of the San Francisco Bay Area, including San Jose and Santa Clara.
Gupta, seen as a political outsider, was born and raised in Danville, a conservative township in San Ramon Valley, to immigrant parents from India. She will square off in the 2020 election against Milpitas Vice Mayor Karina Dominguez, Santa Clara County Board of Education Trustee Anna Song, Santa Clara Unified School District Trustee Jim Canova, Political Advisor Alex Lee, and former Ohlone College Trustee Bob Brunton. The Democratic primary is slated for March 2020.
So far, Gupta is the only Indian-American candidate in the race. The 25th district has a sizable number of Hispanic, Indian and Asian American constituents. Gupta said she is going ahead with her campaign, holding small community gatherings and meeting with constituents despite her fulltime job in the Silicon Valley.
The launch of her campaign kick-off event on Sept. 14 drew dozens of people who complimented her for her vision and energy. “She's been campaigning for hardly three weeks, and all the components of a campaign have come together so nicely. Just look at this event (campaign launch). I can see the energy behind this campaign and tell you that Natasha is a winner,” said Saratoga Council member Rishi Kumar who is running for United States Congress from Silicon Valley’s Congressional District 18 in 2020.
Kumar and others present at the event spoke highly of Gupta’s candidacy. Community advocate and former advisor to the Fremont School District Chinmoy Roy noted, “She has a fire in her belly, she has a vision. And that's why you need to support her.”
Gupta’s platform focuses on many of the pressing issues in California today —housing, infrastructure, income inequality — with a differentiating message. “Our policy priorities need to focus on California’s role in setting moral leadership because quite frankly, we can’t hope that it will come from Washington,” she says.
Gupta is running on an ambitious agenda of a housing and rehabilitation guarantee for the homeless, a complete reform of the cost of college, California Care for All as a public option, a statewide Green New Deal, and ending the epidemic of gun violence and domestic terrorism.
Gupta, who studied environmental policy at UC San Diego, stressed the need for moral leadership. “I feel that the role of government is not just to set taxes, budgets, resources and projects, but also to champion the moral leadership in every policy because there are values ingrained in how we treat the most vulnerable sections of the population and those who are struggling in our society in order to lift them up,” Gupta told this correspondent in an interview.
Gupta attributes her love for public service to her upbringing and her parents, who she said are “very civically involved” and are politically conscious. “We are not a political family per se but I remember every day after school my mother and me would always watch Hardball with Chris Mathews that hosts a spirited hour of political analysis and debate with prominent politicians, newsmakers and cultural icons. I have always been a big fan of this show,” Gupta told India Abroad.
Gupta’s mother, Alka, who runs a successful real estate business is from Delhi while her father, an IIT-Powai graduate, is from Mumbai.
Although she has not run for any public office, Gupta worked in the Obama campaign as a volunteer, and until August this year as a community organizer, as part of Mayor Pete Buttigieg’s presidential campaign.
An ardent fan of President Obama, Gupta also holds Buttigieg in high regard because “he is really a candidate who champions ethics in politics. Gupta said she was deeply disturbed over the election of Donald Trump and with his policies that have created divide racially and on the basis of skin color in the country.
The most recent impetus to her joining public service came in late July in the wake of the Gilroy Garlic Festival shooting in which a 19-year-old gunman used an assault-style rifle to shoot people killing three people and wounding a dozen in Gilroy, a city of 60,000 about 30 miles south of San Jose.
“After watching the incident, the next day, I felt it was time for me to transition into doing something actively on my own, to do something where I can be some kind of a voice in our government,” said Gupta, who along with her husband Michael Hsueh, a Chinese-American, had attended he festival a day before the violence.
Gupta said she is running her campaign on a shoe-string budget and heavily relying on a digital strategy and social media to drive home her campaign message. “My campaign is being run by a volunteer staff and we are not accepting any corporate PAC money as a matter of principle,” she said.