March 2, 2004 > Ash Bhatt, Candidate for 20th State Assembly District, Speaks Out
Ash Bhatt, Candidate for 20th State Assembly District, Speaks Out
TCV: Our readers would like to know your background and what you been doing for this assembly district?
Bhatt: I was born in rural India in 1957. I came from a poor family. I was adopted by the Royal Family in India, so I have experienced poverty and richness. When I grew up, I studied for my Masters in Commerce in India and worked as Chief of Staff of the Upper House of Parliament
In1982, I came to the United States. I studied for a Masters in Business Administration in the Bay Area and in 1983, I started in San Francisco working with the social support for the low income communities along with Mayor Feinstein. When she was the mayor, the San Francisco Aids Foundation was created. I got more interested in supporting community services and served on various commissions at the state and local level. Leo McCarthy, the Lieutenant Governor appointed meto the Prevention of Hate Crimes Commission then I was appointed by Kathleen Connell on the Welfare Workforce Comission. We created a $10,000 tax incentive for the employer to hire these people.
Following that, I was on the Deliquency Prevention Commission in San Francisco City and County. Mayor Willy Brown nominated me for the Public Utilities Commission (PUC) in year 2000. When I was put on the PUC, the Hetch Hetchy project bond issue had failed for the last ten years. Mayor Brown asked me, "Ash, can you help on this issue? You have the experience on the business side and you are an entrepreneur. Give me entrepreneurial input and help this bond to be successful. After that, I was appointed by Gray Davis on the California Water Commission. I served as an advisory Board Member on the Select Committee on Community Colleges in California. I am also a board member on the California Assembly International Relations and Protocol Board Foundation.
I am working with assembly members and senators and we are making a difference by forming a bridge between the 110 Consulate Generals in California and international trade-related, economic-related issues. That's what I am bringing to the district.
TCV: What have you been doing in the private sector?
Bhatt: I am a property management and entrepreneur. As a business entrepreneur I always have the mind for business- a business point of view - how we can create the economy successfully, how we can maximize the system.. From day one, I am a loyal Democrat. I have never changed party and I have never changed my issues and views. I serve as a trustee on a Democratic National Committee, Chairman's Council and Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, Chairman's Council on a Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. I was the only male executive council member on the National Woman Leadership Forum. I'm a member on the United Nations Association and some other social and other types of activities also. I'm a member of the Indo-American Trade and Commerce Council where we made a big difference. We were trying to open up several trade offices in India and other South Asia areas. We work hard on so many different things. These are my experiences and involvements in the community.
TCV: Let's talk about some specific things going on now at the state level. Governor Schwarzenegger is asking for people to pass Proposition 57, the $15 billion bond. Where do you stand on that?
Bhatt: I opposed that bond from day one. I am the only candidate who opposed that and put forward solutions. Nobody calculated yet that the $15 billion bond will cost every family in the California $2,000 additional every year until it's paid back. And then, there is no solution for the next year or the further years on the burden. I agreed to cut only one sector, new prison building or new funds for the prison. I want that to be cut down. When you are in a crisis, you must run is a tight management in the system and come up with the addition solutions and not creating more burdens.
TCV: What are the solutions?
Bhatt: I have the solutions! I have given them to John Dutra. At that time I have suggested a one percent sales tax Everybody has a fair share according to their participation. That's number one. That will give us $10 billion.
Second thing I have in my mind. I'm going to push that lottery ticket one dollar to three dollars if we make it we will have $6 billion net earnings to the state in addition to the $10 billion.
TCV: You're going to increase the lottery ticket from one dollar to three dollars?
Bhatt: Yes. And that one will give a boost up one dollar up three dollar will go to the education. There will be no need to cut any education, no need to shut down any school and no need to increase any college student fees. There are other things we can do to boost the economy. If we increase taxes on people earning over $200,000 that will give us about $3 billion in addition. By doing these nominal things, we can solve our problem.
TCV: How will you help the 20th Assembly District?
Bhatt: Our district is underserved. Most of the money goes to Oakland. I want to make sure we get our fair share. Minimum wage needs to go to $8.50. We need to be equal without discrimination. People need to be compensated fairly throughout Northern California. You can't support your family on minimum wage in the Bay Area.
I have other plans. The minute I become an Assembly Member. I would like to create an International Business Park in our area. We are the best location for all three local airports. We will be able to restore our jobs and economy. If we bring all the offices for the 110 Consul General, we will be world class in international art and cultural activities. Each consul will bring 50 to 100 businesses to the district for export and other activities. We will have a student exchange as well due to this business park.
I would like to create an international institute of technology here. We will create our own identity, just like Stanford and Berkeley, which will train world class information technology, biotechnology and nanotechnology.
These are creative ideas that no one else has brought up. I have friendly relations at the state and federal level. I will expedite help for the district. That's why people need me at the assembly.
TCV: What about Worker's Compensation?
Bhatt: We need to stop malpractice. We need to bring industry, legislators, employers and labor all to one table to come up with a solution. We are now driving away businesses. We will come up with the right solution. I will create Ash Bhatt advisory committee of doctors, scientists, professors, economists, civic leaders, students, youth leaders and union leaders to bring up issues and solutions.