Growing up in a small town in India, I had to make a choice that would forever affect my life: stay in a small town with my parents or move to the city to get an education. I followed my dreams and chose education.
After earning a bachelor’s degree from Nagpur University and a postgraduate diploma from Bombay University, I left home again, this time for Marion, Iowa, to start a life with my husband, Arvind.
Iowa has given so much to me. My husband started a business, we raised two boys and my neighbors and friends welcomed us as an extension of their own families.
I made it my mission to give back. I tutored at local schools, eventually running for the Linn-Mar School Board. I was elected three times to the Iowa House of Representatives, to the Iowa Senate and appointed to the Iowa Utilities Board. In 2011, I was elected as the Chair of the National Foundation for Women Legislators.
When I decided to run for Congress, it was for one reason: To give back to the state that has given me so much.
We owe our children a quality, affordable education from prekindergarten through college. I have always fought for Iowa’s students: I sponsored legislation to establish universal prekindergarten for 4-year-olds and was one of the first advocates for online advanced placement courses for rural students.
Our children are entering the workforce in a global economy, but schools and communities without high-speed Internet are unable to compete. This is why, as your congresswoman, I will ensure all Iowans have access to high-speed Internet.
Strengthening Iowa’s technological infrastructure is one of my top priorities. I helped build the Iowa Power Fund, making Iowa the number one producer of wind energy. I will continue to create high-paying jobs in Iowa.
We must also ensure every single person has affordable, quality health care. Healthcare is a right, and I will not stop until all Iowans have the care they deserve.
I am so honored to call Iowa home. Iowa is the place a family from India could call home, raise two children, start a business and thrive.
I do not accept Congressman Steve King’s hate-filled comments about Iowans who look or sound different. We are not Steve King’s state. I will send a message to King and the rest of the world when I say from the House floor, “I am proud to be an Iowan and proud to be an immigrant.” Iowa welcomes anyone willing to do the right thing. And that is why Iowa is, and forever will be, my home.
I am often asked what separates me from the other candidates. The answer is simple: I am the only candidate with experience at the local, state and national levels. I understand how each level works — and how to get things done. As your congresswoman, I will use this experience to accomplish our goals. I would be honored to have your vote.
• Swati Dandekar is a Democratic candidate for 1st District in Congress. Comments: firstname.lastname@example.org