Former Obama Staffer Enters Race for County Council At-Large

When Ashwani Jain was fighting for his life as a teenager, he didn’t realize how it would influence his career in politics.

He was diagnosed at the age of 13 with Non-Hodgkin lymphoma, a form of cancer that starts in the white blood cells, and didn’t think he would make it.

“I felt like I was just a number during my four-months of chemotherapy and not a person,” Jain said. “I just remember feeling helpless.”

Jain, who is now 28-years-old and cancer-free, said he’s constantly reminded of that time in the hospital where he felt powerless. He said he will use that reminder to advocate for residents in Montgomery County who feel the same way if he’s elected for a Council At-large seat in next year’s election.

Most of his career has been dedicated to political campaigns.  One of his most recent positions was working as the Director of Outreach for the Cancer Moonshot Summit under the Obama Administration. During this role, he was responsible for building coalitions with organizations across the country composed of patients, survivors, researchers, physicians and business leaders which is issue of importance to him: advance science and research.

“Our county is home to the best educational and research organizations in the nation but when you have a President who does not believe in science and threatens to slash our research budget, we need to continue investing in our medical professionals,” he said.

According to the Maryland State Board of Elections website, there are 23 other candidates running for a Council At-large seat so far. With the exception of Tim Willard, who is running for a Council At-large seat as an Independent, all of the candidates in this race are running as Democrats.  There are three open seats since Councilmembers Nancy Floreen, Marc Elrich and George Leventhal are unable to run again because of term limits.

But according to Jain, what makes him a unique candidate is the fact that he lived in every part of the county which has deepened his understanding of the issues at stake in each community.

“I strongly believe that education is the surest pathway out of poverty but as someone who’s lived in both the eastern and western parts of our county, I’ve seen how education is not equally funded throughout our county,” he said. “I want to make our schools even better by closing the opportunity gap that our students are facing.”

In addition to advancing science research and education, inclusive and safe communities is on his agenda.

Jain, a first generation American, wants to continue the conversation with the community to foster greater trust between local law enforcement and immigrant communities he said. If elected, he will be the first Indian-American to sit on the council, according to Jain.

He said he wants more affordable housing, efficient and effective transit that reduces congestion, protects the environment, and connects people to jobs. His parents are small business owners here in Montgomery County and he hopes to create better pathways toward entrepreneurship for residents.

“Our local businesses are engines of growth that provide economic stability and financial growth to our communities.  I want to make sure we are helping small business owners so that we become the most entrepreneurial and innovative county in the nation,” Jain said.

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Mitti Hicks

About Mitti Hicks

Mitti Hicks is a multimedia journalist and community engagement specialist with Montgomery Community Media. She is passionate about telling stories that impact our community and may be reached at MHicks@mymcmedia.org and on Twitter @mittimegan.

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