Q&A: 2nd Congressional District Democratic candidate Darshan N. Patel - Albuquerque Journal

Q&A: 2nd Congressional District Democratic candidate Darshan N. Patel

Darshan Patel

NAME: Darshan N. Patel

POLITICAL PARTY: Democratic

OCCUPATION: Physician

CITY OF RESIDENCE: Hobbs. Raised in Albuquerque.

RELEVANT EXPERIENCE: Union President, Former High School Math Teacher

EDUCATION: UNM Family Medicine Residency; MD – Cooper; MSEd – UPenn, BA/MA – Brown

CAMPAIGN WEBSITE: patelfornm.com/

1. What is the biggest issue New Mexico is facing right now and how would you address it in Congress?

The Economy. As the president of a health care workers union, the Committee of Interns and Residents / SEIU Healthcare, I am the only labor leader in this race. I support the PRO Act, which will help secure jobs for New Mexicans that pay a living wage.

2. What is your position regarding climate change? What actions should Congress take, if any, regarding the environment?

Climate change is real. The science is settled, fossil fuels are contributing to rapid global warming. Congress needs to take bold action to reduce our reliance on coal, oil and gas so we can transition to a Green Economy in significant ways by 2030.

3. What is your position on the leasing of federal land for oil, gas and mineral development? Do you think the federal government should change course and issue new leases?

I oppose new leases on federal land for oil and gas development. New Mexicans are already experiencing a warmer climate, earlier fire seasons, a historic drought and worsening air quality. I will stand up to big oil and secure our environment and jobs for future generations and lead a transition to a Green Economy.

4. What is your position on the U.S. response to the war in Ukraine? Are there additional actions the U.S. should be taking?

I stand with our Ukrainian allies as they fight against autocracy and dictatorship. I support an accelerated process in including Ukraine into NATO and the European Union. We should support Europe’s transition away from Russian fossil fuel dependence and encourage investment in renewable energy.

5. What actions should Congress take regarding people now living illegally in the U.S.? What about for those who want to come in?

I am a first generation American and was raised in a working class immigrant family in Albuquerque. We must end family separation and immigration detention. I support the Dream Act. We need to overhaul our asylum process. We do not have an open border and must ensure that our border communities are supported and feel secure.

6. Do you favor a federal ban on the sale of military style semi-automatic rifles? If so, what would you do about the millions of such weapons now legally owned by American citizens? What other, if any, gun law reforms would you support?

Mass shootings should not be a common occurrence in America. The law enforcement community is concerned about the proliferation of guns amongst the public. I support common sense, bipartisan gun reforms including: universal background checks, a national “red flag” law, and stopping the proliferation of “ghost guns”.

7. Federal spending plays an important role in New Mexico’s economy. What should be done to increase other economic drivers here?

As a former public high school math teacher, investment in our K-12 schools is a priority. Investing in our local labor force will fuel innovation and attract prospective employers in a variety of sectors. We need bold investment to transition New Mexico’s dependence on fossil fuels to more renewable energy sources.

8. What actions do you think Congress should take to address inflation?

Corporations are gouging consumers and posting record profits as everyday New Mexicans feel the pain of rising prices. Congress should make billionaires pay their fair share in taxes. Rapid interest rate hikes can cause a rise in unemployment, which disproportionately impacts working families.

9. Do you favor or oppose limits on late-term abortion, and do you believe tax dollars should or should not be used to fund abortions?

I am trained in comprehensive reproductive health care as a Family Medicine physician. Access to contraception and safe and legal abortion is an essential part of health care. I oppose the Hyde Amendment. The federal government should be increasing, not limiting access to essential health care services.

10. What should be done at the federal level to address the crisis of opioid addiction? Any other drugs?

We must hold Big Pharma accountable for their role in the opioid crisis. We need to reduce the costs and barriers to accessing substance use and mental health treatment programs. As a health care provider trained to provide this care, I understand this issue and support a harm reduction approach.

11. What differentiates you from your opponents?

I have frontline experience on the issues that matter to New Mexicans. To be effective in Congress we will need to build power and coalitions with independent and conservative voters – I have experience doing that as a physician in a conservative part of our state and as a union leader.

12. Why do you want to be a member of Congress?

Disinformation and mistruths are threatening our democracy. As the only out LGBT candidate running for any federal or statewide office in NM, a rural physician, union president and former high school teacher, I would bring frontline experience to uniquely represent New Mexico as a policymaker on the issues that matter.

Personal background

1. Have you or your business, if you are a business owner, ever been the subject of any state or federal tax liens?

No.

2. Have you ever been involved in a personal or business bankruptcy proceeding?

No.

3. Have you ever been arrested for, charged with, or convicted of drunken driving, any misdemeanor or any felony in New Mexico or any other state? If so, explain.

No.

 

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