Palo Alto attorney Ajwang Rading announced his candidacy for California’s 18th Congressional District today. In an email to campaign supporters, community activists, loved ones, and voters, Rading laid out his vision for the district and our country:
“We are living through an era of unprecedented challenges. As the world continues to face our greatest existential crisis—climate change—the pandemic has additionally affected every dimension of our livelihood, from physical and mental health to socioeconomic mobility to governance.
Meanwhile, our workers struggle to keep up with rising costs of living, increasingly automated workplaces, and healthcare that costs too much and covers too few. Furthermore, our region faces a housing affordability crisis, severe traffic congestion continues to develop along 101 and 280, and our schools are lacking adequate resources that will help prepare the next generation of entrepreneurs and leaders. As I talk to the residents of our district, I hear stories of how our political representation is just not doing enough for our families. I want to change that.
My lived experiences are what this moment and our fight for the future need. I was raised by a strong single mother from Kenya, who instilled in me the importance of a good education, hard work, and fighting for what you believe in. Our life was not easy—for most of my upbringing, we experienced homelessness, living out of a 2001 Dodge Neon. But, with the encouragement and support of my mother and a community of people who believed in me, I made my way to UCLA as a Jackie Robinson Foundation Scholar.
I overcame the experience of homelessness through the combination of an entrepreneurial spirit and public service. From leading truth and reconciliation efforts in post-conflict societies, to drafting criminal justice and national security legislation for U.S. Sen. Cory Booker, to investigating civil and human rights violations in our country’s worst prisons while supporting anti-death penalty litigation, to working on cybersecurity matters in the U.S. Attorney’s Office Central District, to winning legal benefits for veterans, and now representing next-generation emerging companies and technologies, I have learned what it takes to meet this unprecedented moment, now and for the future.
While my life is a testament to the amazing opportunities that this country offers its people through an entrepreneurial spirit of service, I know that we are leaving far too many behind. This District leads the world with our innovation, but that is not reflected in Washington. It’s time to change that.
In order to do this, we must align market incentives to address the country’s most important issues, we must organize right here in the District, and we must galvanize the political will. If we are to have a fighting chance, we must not be afraid to be technical, nuanced, and beyond-ambitious.
It will take a village of dedicated people from all backgrounds to create an America of new and better opportunities, and I hope you will join me in building that village.
Over the next year, I look forward to meeting as many of you as I can, and I hope that I can earn your vote.
We are resilient. And we will rise.