Photo of the candidate courtesy Ashwani Jain.
Why are you running for County Council?
I love Montgomery County and am blessed to call it my home. This is where my parents immigrated to start our family and launch our family business. I’ve lived in four of the five council districts, in both the east and west sides of the county, and in up and down county. I was born in Rockville and grew up in Gaithersburg, Silver Spring, Wheaton and Potomac, and never left this county because it’s home to my American Dream.
I am running because 15 years ago, when I was 13, I was diagnosed and treated for cancer. It was the scariest moment of my life and I had to grow up fast. I found that people stopped talking WITH me as a person and kept talking ABOUT me like I was just a number. But I refused to give up and felt determined to make sure no one else feels as powerless as I was. I wanted to make a difference I could feel, and found my purpose by working with the Make-A-Wish Foundation and with President Obama. And after 10 years of engaging and empowering residents in Montgomery County, I’m running to make a bigger impact in the county I was born and raised in.
What are your qualifications for the position?
I’m a first-generation American, a native of Montgomery County, the son of small business owners, a proud product of public schools, and worked for President Obama for the last ten years. I worked on his 2008 and 2012 campaigns, in the White House, in Vice President Biden’s office, at the Department of Housing and Urban Development, and at the Department of Health and Human Services.
As a political appointee for President Obama, I ran efforts to increase the diversity in our government, to help people in Montgomery County and around the nation access affordable housing and affordable healthcare, and build grassroots support for NIH resulting in billions of dollars for cancer research.
I also chair the midterms team of Do the Most Good Montgomery County. In this role, I am in charge of building a grassroots team that focuses on the Maryland gubernatorial election. I also volunteer as a Wish Ambassador and Wish Grantor for the Make-A-Wish Foundation of the Mid-Atlantic, helping to enrich the lives of children with life-threatening medical conditions in Montgomery County.
Are you using public financing, yes or no?
What specific policies and/or programs would you propose to expand the county’s tax base?
I support smart growth that favors mixed-use development and creates inclusive communities with access to affordable housing, transit, education, and employment opportunities. This ensures that we expand our economic tax base without pricing anyone out of our cities, and helps increase foot traffic and retail support for our local businesses.
Recently, we lost Discovery from downtown Silver Spring. This is a huge loss. The company not only helped lead the revitalization of downtown Silver Spring, but also created opportunities for new restaurants and supportive retail to open in the area. Through my conversations with several of these small business owners, I understand the fear they have about the loss of foot traffic and revenue.
This is a chance for Montgomery County to incentivize and encourage more businesses—small, medium and large—to stay in Montgomery County or relocate here. If Amazon were to make Montgomery County home to its second U.S. headquarters, for example, we could see as many as 50,000 new jobs created and hundreds of millions of new dollars pumped back into our local economy—a possibility I’ve been talking about since October.
But the solution doesn’t lie in simply trading one large corporate employer for another. As good stewards of our county, we must balance corporate incentives and our support for small businesses. Offering huge incentives can harm the economic stability of the county if used disproportionately. Not only does the impact of those incentives pose real risk for smaller businesses hoping to compete, it sends the message that these corporations are a more valuable mechanism to improve the lives of people living in our county, which simply isn’t true.
There is huge value in supporting small, local businesses—which I know firsthand from the experiences of my own family building our American dream, and our own small business—in Montgomery County.
I’m an average voter, interested in doing my civic duty but not an avid follower of county politics. Convince me that I should vote for you over all the other candidates.
I’m running for an at-large seat on the Montgomery County Council. You get to vote for four candidates and I hope to earn one of your votes.
My experience working on the Obama campaign and in the Obama White House has given me experience organizing and making government more diverse and representative of everyone. Through working with my parents’ business, I have learned the importance of customer and constituency services, leaving one’s ego at the door, constantly seeking feedback, and being the ultimate team player and team-builder. That is how I will approach my work as a member of the County Council.
I am honored to be endorsed by SEIU Local 500, the LGBTQ Democrats of Montgomery County, former HUD Secretary Julian Castro, and Run for Something, among others.
I have a progressive, people-focused campaign—we have earned the support of more than 800 individual donors and 550 volunteers. I am focused on building coalitions and working on issues that matter most to our county residents, including testifying in support of the $15 minimum wage and putting resident concerns above those of big developers. I am also not taking a dime from developers or corporations and have even refused and return checks in the past.
I want to be the kind of leader who is responsive to my constituents, and I would love to be in touch with you. You can visit my website at www.voteashwanijain.com and find me on social media (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram) at @AshwaniJainMoCo. If you have questions, you can email me at [email protected]. I look forward to engaging with you and discussing the issues you care about here in Montgomery County.
Ashwani Jain is a first-generation American, a native of Montgomery County, the son of small business owners, a former appointee with the Obama-Biden administration, a cancer survivor, and an at-large candidate for the Montgomery County Council.
A political organizer and coalition builder, Jain has experience working in the public, private and nonprofit sectors, as well as extensive political advocacy experience. His long-term goal is to engage more Americans in the political process and ensure our political institutions are more representative, responsive, inclusive and accountable.
Jain holds a master’s degree in political management from the George Washington University, as well as dual bachelor of science degrees in business management and political science from the University of Maryland.