August 15, 2003

La Prensa Persa

Editors Note: The biweekly column of La Prensa Persa (The Persian Press), is an opportunity for members of the middle-eastern communities to communicate and talk about the many issues facing them, immigration law, civil and constitutional rights to name a few, which not only impact that community but also impact the Hispanic community.

For the First Time in America a Persian American Running to be Governor

By Kathy Hadizadeh

Sitting at Starbucks café in El Segundo, I am interviewing a rather “exceptional” candidate running for California governor position - Badi Badiozamani. Why exceptional? Let me explain. It was some 25 years ago that a big number of Persians immigrated to California as their second home. They form a large segement of the state’s population, some of them even in key technological positions. But, now for the first time in United States election history, a Persian American candidate is running for a key position.

For “Badi Badiozamani” being a “first timer” has been a part of his life. He enjoys an analytical yet creative mind that lets him grasp the opportunities coming his way to help mankind. Walking through his life in my interview with him, it is the most peculiar point that I can say about Badi. From early times as a recent graduate in Iran before the revolution he voluntarily went to the deserted places to help people improve their life conditions. It has always been his doctrine to protect his cultural identity, support humans and contribute to society regardless of the geographical boundaries.

Currently, Badi is the director for East-West Understanding Center. He believes that all human beings regardless of their race, sex and any cultural differences share the same feelings as a human being.

Besides such humanitarian activities, Badi is not a newcomer to California politics and economics. Holding a Master’s in Public Administration and a PhD in Political Science, together with 22 years of living in CA, has exposed him to some fundamental problems of the state. This point evidently distinguishes Badi from the rest of 350 names on the ballot. Badi already knows the problems and already has “pragmatic” solutions and ideas.

Badi does not need to start analyzing what needs to be done to fix this $38 billion deficit. He has served on the California Governor’s Joint Venture Advisory Board and presently serves on San Diego’s Small Business Advisory Board. So, he already has plans and shares some of them with me:

1- He is running as an independent. He can act as a catalyst between republicans and democrats. This way he can be a consensus builder to bring them together and bring more transparency to outsiders like you and me!

2- He already states that he will cut his salary into half. Badi starts the change from himself.

3- Being on Advisory board, he has seen how CA credit rating has dropped . A brilliant example is the %300 increase on car registration. He has some plans on how to take some hard actions to get over this problem. Badi only approves budget for practical purposes. A memorial building for AIDS victims costing $200K is sure memorable but considering current CA status, this money going to research on how to deal with AIDS is a better use of the money.

4- Reduce the tuition fees in CA state universities. It is hypocritical for Badi that all this propaganda is made to attract people to better education and yet make it more impossible for them to go to school.

5- A great portion of CA state budget goes to retention centers. Badi plans to bring private business to prisons. In this plan, a prisoner is paid the minimum wage so that he does not feel like a slave. Out of each dollar received by the prisoner, 20% goes to victim family, 20% to prisoner family, 20% for prisoner savings so that when he gets out of jail he has some savings, 20% for daily expenses and 20% for room and board. This way the burden of prison budget is relieved from the state to some degree and also the prisoner when released has a saving. A total win-win situation!

6- Badi has some identified expert knowledge that can reduce the traffic at rush hours without building new freeways.

7- Badi believes that CA with this large number of immigrants can influence federal decisions. The workers who cross the boarder to work illegally and support their families should be treated like any other worker with no abuse from the employer side. Badi thinks of issuing temporary seasonal visas that allow the alien workers to come, work, enjoy the rights of a legal citizen, pay taxes and go back to their families at the termination of their visa period.

At the end of the interview I have a clear picture of who Badi is and what his plans are for the golden state as the governor. I like the fact that he already has such a transparent agenda that he can share in less than one hour. Here, I tried to convey his agenda to the Hispanic community, a majority of CA population that Badi respects deeply and is ready to explain his view points for, should there need be. After all, Badi’s fundamental belief is that only dialog leads to better ideas.

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