Q&A: Democratic candidates running for U.S. Congressional District 2 talk priorities, health care, immigration

Five Democratic candidates are running in the primary election for U.S. Congress District 2 in Texas, which covers parts of Harris County including Cy-Fair, Spring, Klein, Lake Houston, Humble and Kingwood. We asked each candidate why they are running and got their thoughts on several key issues.

H.P. Parvizian

Years lived in the district: over 15

Professional background: entrepreneur and board member of Go Team Therapy Dogs

Top priorities: family wage paying jobs, health care for children, equality for all


Why did you choose to run for U.S. Congress District 2?

The reason I am running for U.S. Congress is because it is time to get everyone to unite and bring our community back together. It is about our children and our grandchildren and creating opportunities for their future. The Second Congressional District is where my family and I have spent most of our adult lives and where I find the most opportunity to make the greatest impact on the issues that are paramount. We own properties in the area and also operate much of our business in District 2. District 2 has always been home to me.

What do you think are the biggest challenges facing our country when it comes to immigration?

One of our country’s greatest assets is our diversity. But President [Donald] Trump is dividing our country, and this divide has America fighting over problems instead of working toward solutions. While we may not always agree, we must come together as a community and work toward a solution so that we may progress and move forward. I understand that America’s leadership in the world depends on our leadership here at home. Additionally, the polarization of the immigration issue is bleeding into other policy areas when, at its core, I believe that most people, regardless of political affiliation, are not as far apart as some people claim. Finding common ground on such a firebrand issue may ultimately be the thing that brings us back together.

What are your priorities when it comes to health care?

When I arrive in D.C. I will fight for health care for children. Health care is a right, not a privilege. We must move toward a single-payer health care system such as Medicare for all. However, after our so-called tax reform legislation, where $1.5 trillion was added to the debt, Congress is now preparing to vote on legislation that will enact cuts or caps for Medicaid to help recoup that money. This is unacceptable. Not only are they delaying funding with CHIP, now parents who have Medicaid for children are not able to get treatment or medicine when their kids have illness or even special needs such as autism.

Ali A. Khorasani

Years lived in the district: 1.5

Professional background: field service engineer for chromatography and mass spectrometry

Top priorities: environmental action, Medicare for all, improving public classrooms


Why did you choose to run for U.S. Congress District 2?

When I was doing candidate research in 2014, I noticed too many seats were uncontested by Democrats for U.S. Congress. Moreover, I was somewhat shocked by statistics on how many millionaires, billionaires and career politicians hold those seats, and hardly any scientists. As Neil DeGrasse Tyson put it, “Where are the scientists? Where are the engineers? Where’s the rest of life?” I thought someone in my community should run for public office to represent ordinary Americans. We need more diversity in Congress so that every person’s voice is heard, not just wealthy donors and corporate interests. I can provide that voice for the people of [District] 2.

What do you think are the biggest challenges facing our country when it comes to immigration?

Our immigration system is packed with inefficiencies and years-long backlogs that make the legal immigration process unnecessarily difficult. For me, immigration reform means being more inclusive and efficient with a welcoming immigration policy—welcoming refugees, Dreamers, scholars and community service workers to revitalize our communities. We need to pass a clean DREAM Act that creates paths to citizenship for our undocumented neighbors and their families. We need to abandon the xenophobic, racist dialogue against undocumented people and refugees and start thinking about how we can revitalize our communities with fresh faces and fresh perspectives.

What are your priorities when it comes to health care?

I support the Expanded and Improved Medicare for All Act. The Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) is the best piece of legislation so far to tackle the healthcare crisis in this country, but for many Americans, including my family, friends, and constituents I’ve met on the campaign trail, it is just not affordable. I think health care should be a right, and human lives should not be for-profit. Expanding Medicare to all Americans will require negotiating prices with drug and medical device companies and will bring down the absurdly-inflated prices we pay—twice as much as any other country.

Silky Malik

Years lived in the district: 1

Professional background: associate teacher with HISD, former behavioral science researcher at MD Anderson Cancer Center

Top priorities: making health care more affordable, flood prevention, education (universal pre-K, workforce training)


Why did you choose to run for U.S. Congress District 2?

I am running for Congress because participation trophies don't cut it. I am tired of my representatives thinking that showing up is enough; they need to be fighting for us. I am running for Congress because not only will I show up but because I am also going to fight. For far too long money and power have had more of a say in how our government works than we do. I am running for Congress because I will fight for our voices to be heard. I believe that in order to flip this district, we must offer more to voters than just empty slogans; we must give them real policies that will improve their lives, and we must run a candidate willing to fight for those policies in Congress. I am that candidate, and I will be that representative who fights for them.

What do you think are the biggest challenges facing our country when it comes to immigration?

I believe we need real immigration reform that is fair and practical. The current system is broken and the 116th Congress must work to fix it. We need to ensure the pathway to citizenship is thorough, pragmatic and equitable. Lastly, we must keep our promise to Dreamers by passing a clean DREAM Act. It is important that we don’t become a nation that breaks up families, but instead ensures that the most vetted group of people in the country (DACA recipients) are provided a path to citizenship over time.

What are your priorities when it comes to health care?

42.9 million Americans have unpaid medical debt. About 1 in 10 adults delay medical care. Forty-five percent of Americans say they would struggle to pay a $500 unexpected medical bill; 19 percent wouldn’t be able to pay it at all. This is not the America that we want to leave for our children. In 1945, President Truman proposed universal health coverage. Seventy-three years later we are still waiting. I believe we need to extend universal coverage through the Medicare system to all Americans to take the risk of financial ruin off the table, ensure all people have access to care, and move to parity with other OECD nations.

J. Darnell Jones

Years lived in the district: 5

Professional background: retired military officer

Top priorities: income inequality (repealing Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, reversal of Citizens United, $15 minimum wage), Medicare for all single-payer healthcare, green energy


Why did you choose to run for U.S. Congress District 2?

Our country is in danger. Having grown up poor, retired as a military officer after 25 years of service, a legal education, and with significant leadership experience as an equal opportunity professional, I believe I am uniquely qualified to relate to all Americans and to advocate for and protect the interests of the working class. I am also invested in [District 2] and recognize it is one of the most diverse districts in Texas and could progress with the use of my experience.

What do you think are the biggest challenges facing our country when it comes to immigration?

Our country has some of the best technology and brightest Homeland Security personnel the world has to offer for protection of its people. The biggest challenge we have with immigration is the lack of a rapid pathway to citizenship. Allowing immigrants citizenship will allow us our country to better manage security and help grow our economy. Many business owners and personal employers use immigrants as a way to get around paying living or prevailing wages, which limits job creation. We must get immigrants documented so that they may be able to have a significant positive impact on our economy with additional revenue from collected taxes.

What are your priorities when it comes to health care?

Healthcare should be a right. We are the richest country in the world, yet we are the only world leader that doesn't provide healthcare for all of our citizens. It is time to put people [ahead] of corporate greed from insurance and pharmaceutical companies and move to a single payer healthcare system such as Medicare for all. It is my priority to guarantee actual medical care, not just access, for all Americans.

Todd Litton

Years lived in the district: 19

Professional background: non-profit consultant/executive; former attorney and investment professional

Top priorities: investing in education/training, provide quality preventative health care to all, flood prevention

[email protected]

Why did you choose to run for U.S. Congress District 2?

Too many politicians in D.C. today put their party over our country. They view every issue and every challenge through a broken partisan lens meant to divide us. I am running for Congress to change the broken status quo and to bring our community’s common sense and common decency to Washington to get things done. I am running to win this seat, flip the House, and put a hard check and balance on this president. I will be accessible and accountable to the people of [District 2] and continue to work tirelessly to represent them and their interests in Washington.

What do you think are the biggest challenges facing our country when it comes to immigration?

In Congress, I will make comprehensive immigration reform a priority. We need a path to citizenship for the Dreamers who are law-abiding people contributing to our communities and our country. This reform won’t allow people who arrived or stayed here illegally to leapfrog others lawfully going through the immigration process, but it will provide a path to citizenship. We need to protect the integrity of our borders and immigration procedures, but building a wall at great cost with little effect and deporting productive, law-abiding members of society lacks both common sense and common decency.

What are your priorities when it comes to health care?

Health care is a fundamental human right, and it must be affordable for all. We must lower health care costs and work together so all Texans can access quality health care without breaking the bank. We must stabilize the health care system, lower drug costs, and increase access to [the Children’s Health Insurance Program], Medicare and Medicaid so that people can access preventive health care and lead healthy, productive lives. Common sense health care includes covering preventive care, protecting pre-existing conditions, mental health care, lowering medication costs and covering addiction. Importantly, it means covering birth control, women’s health issues and ensuring women are in charge of their own reproductive choices.

By Shawn Arrajj
Shawn Arrajj serves as the editor of the Cy-Fair edition of Community Impact Newspaper where he covers the Cy-Fair and Jersey Village communities. He mainly writes about development, transportation and issues in Harris County.


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