Ritesh Tandon, an Indian-American engineer and entrepreneur based in San Jose, is running for Congress as a Republican in South Bay District 17, which includes Milpitas. His opponent is Democratic Party incumbent Ro Khanna.
In the past 22 years, Tandon’s technology career, in which he’s worked for the likes of Cisco and Jabra, has unfolded alongside an extensive history of helping and leading nonprofits. He also sat on the executive committee of the Sankara Eye Foundation, raising millions of dollars for the Foundation’s 9 hospitals, which collectively seek to eliminate curable blindness. In addition, Tandon served as president of UPMA for 5 years after having been a volunteer there, aiding in the organization’s goal of educating and caring for poor children.
Tandon’s current campaign is his first run for elected office.
When asked why he’s running as a Republican, Tandon cites the Democratic Party’s supermajority status in our state: “They are 28 years [leading] in California.” He then cites California’s $55 million budget deficit, homeless issues, and poor infrastructure while stating a goal of restoring balance to the system.
Specifically, he’s urging voters to vote No on Prop 16: “I think Prop 16 is a completely race-based division of the society. And it is a temporary patch. So I am against Prop 16.”
If Prop 16 is passed come Election Day, the 24-year-old Prop 209 will be repealed, at which point racial components shall factor into California public education, jobs, and contracts. Says Tandon, that outcome would be ‘Highly unfair,” as “A quota system is not good for anyone.” His concern is that people will lack the will to achieve true excellence if their outcomes are driven by mere quotas, which he does not deem a good incentive.
On the issue of policing, the candidate says, “I believe in Police Reform.” He cites opponent Ro Khanna’s will to abolish ICE, and expresses a concern about our country harboring potentially unsafe immigrants. He does believe in, however, reforming police procedures, complete with providing police personnel with sensitivity training. He stops well shy, though, of the concept of defunding the police. “The police are our family,” he says, noting how officers risk their lives to protect and save ordinary people.
On the issue of Medicare, Tandon also highlights differences between himself and Khanna: “I’m for Medicare for every individual,” he says, including those with pre-existing conditions. What he objects to is the Democrats’ $3 trillion healthcare plan, as he gathers their only solution to paying for such a plan would be taxing the rich. Says Tandon, even if you taxed the rich at 100%, you’d still fall short of the projected budget. His solution to healing the healthcare system? Price transparency would play a big role, so as to make shopping around and knowing true costs a much less burdensome process. In addition, he intends to seek drug price transparency, more insurance options for people, overall cost reductions in the medical field, and increased quality of care.
In a parting note, Tandon cites how Silicon Valley’s governmental and regulatory environment is driving people away. He adds that Ro Khanna is not aware of this situation, and thus urges voters to resist sticking to their favored party and pay closer attention to who can actually do what.
Tandon has been married to his wife Zurica, whom he met while attending Santa Clara University, since 2001. They have 2 children, a son (age 14) and a daughter (11). For the past year and a half, Tandon has run a new technology company that is in stealth mode, working on advancing AI and cloud computing. He makes clear, though, where his priorities lie:
“If I’m elected, then I will work more for the people…I know that this country has given me a lot. Time to give it back to the country now.”