Journal class

Q&A: Darshan N. Patel, Democratic Candidate for the 2nd Congressional District

Darshan Patel

NAME: Darshan N. Patel

POLITICAL PARTY: Democratic

OCCUPATION: Doctor

TOWN OF RESIDENCE: Hobbs. Raised in Albuquerque.

RELEVANT EXPERIENCE: President of the union, former high school math teacher

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

CAMPAIGN WEBSITE: patelformm.com/

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

The economy. As the president of a healthcare workers’ union, the Interns and Residents Committee/SEIU Healthcare, I am the only union leader in this race. I support the PRO law, which will help secure jobs for New Mexicans who pay a living wage.

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

Climate change is real. The science is established, fossil fuels are contributing to rapid global warming. Congress must take bold steps to reduce our dependence on coal, oil, and gas so that we can transition to a green economy in a meaningful way by 2030.

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

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

4. What is your position on the American response to the war in Ukraine? Are there any additional steps the United States should take?

I stand with our Ukrainian allies in their fight against autocracy and dictatorship. I support an accelerated process of Ukraine’s inclusion in NATO and the European Union. We must support Europe’s transition away from Russian dependence on fossil fuels and encourage investment in renewable energy.

5. What action should Congress take regarding people currently living illegally in the United States? And for those who want to come?

I am a first generation American and was raised in a working class immigrant family in Albuquerque. We must end the separation of families and the detention of migrants. I support the Dream Act. We need to review our asylum procedure. We do not have an open border and we need to ensure that our border communities are supported and feel safe.

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

Mass shootings shouldn’t be commonplace in America. The law enforcement community is concerned about the proliferation of firearms among the public. I support common sense, bipartisan gun reforms including: universal background checks, a nationwide “red flag” law, and stopping the proliferation of “phantom guns.”

7. Federal spending plays an important role in New Mexico’s economy. What would it take to increase the other economic drivers here?

As a former public high school math teacher, investing in our K-12 schools is a priority. Investing in our local workforce will drive innovation and attract potential employers in a variety of sectors. We need bold investments to shift New Mexico’s reliance on fossil fuels to more renewable energy sources.

8. What steps do you think Congress should take to fight inflation?

Companies are gouging consumers and posting record profits as New Mexicans feel the pain of rising prices every day. Congress should make billionaires pay their fair share of taxes. Rapid increases in interest rates can lead to higher unemployment, which disproportionately affects working families.

9. Do you support or oppose limiting late-term abortions, and do you think that taxpayers’ money should or should not be used to fund abortions?

I am trained in comprehensive reproductive health care as a family 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 increase, not limit, access to essential health services.

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

We must hold Big Pharma accountable for its role in the opioid crisis. We need to reduce the costs and barriers to accessing addiction 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 front-line experience on 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 as a doctor in a conservative part of our state and as a labor leader.

12. Why do you want to be a congressman?

Misinformation and untruths threaten our democracy. As the only LGBT candidate to run for federal or statewide office in New Mexico, rural physician, union president, and former high school teacher, I would bring frontline experience to uniquely represent New Mexico as a decision maker on the issues that matter.

Personal history

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

No.

2. Have you ever been involved in personal or commercial bankruptcy proceedings?

No.

3. Have you ever been arrested, charged, or convicted of a DUI, misdemeanor, or felony in New Mexico or any other state? If yes, explain.

No.