Two nights ago, I attended a town hall meeting that Raja, who is running for Allegheny County Executive, hosted. Two days prior, I received a recorded phone from Raja briefly explaining this event. Since I voted for the man in the primary, I had nothing else going on, and free refreshments were part of the evening, how could I say no?!
Raja started off the event by asking the small group what they liked, what they did not like, and what they would change about Allegheny County. The answers were generally not surprising. Parks, sports, theaters, education (universities), hospitals, and people were among the likes. Taxes, road construction, transportation (specifically the Port Authority), and many municipalities/governments were among the dislikes. Raja shared with us some of his findings (surprisingly to me, young people in the area listed efficient mass transportation as a top concern, even over the drink tax). And then he went on to talk about his plan for the county, which includes the following:
- Lowering taxes/fees and balancing budgets (something he has had success at in Mt Lebanon)
- Innovating mass transit
- Modernizing county government and improving services
- Growing the economy, which does include the controversial Marcellus shale (his goal is to protect the environment and the workers)
- Creating an innovation/technology corridor at the under-used airport (he co-founded a technology company in the area that now employs hundreds of people)
You can visit his website, joinraja.com, to read more about him and his policies.
I came away from that one-hour meeting convinced that Raja is the right guy for the job. He is an articulate, smart, successful businessman with some great ideas and a lot of knowledge. He talked about integrity, something he seems to have, which is so important to me.
A couple of people asked him things I had never considered, and quite frankly had no idea about it, and Raja never missed a beat answering these questions. At one point, when he talked about his electability, he repeated something that the mother of an elected (democrat) official said: If you can trust your life to an Indian doctor, you can certainly trust Allegheny County to an Indian CEO.
Raja intends to host about 70 town hall meetings over the summer, during what is the "dead season" of the campaign. That alone impressed me. He obviously is interested in what the people have to say and what they want to see. He is not part of the "same-old" regime.
Please consider attending a meeting in your area to see him in action and ask him some questions. I am confident the vast majority of you will come away wanting to vote for him in November as well. At the very least, you will be helping yourself make an informed decision.