Dr. Amish Shah Wants to Make a Difference as the Next House Representative from Arizona Congressional District One

AZ CD Six House Candidate and Arizona State Representative Dr. Amish Shah. Photo from Shah Congressional Campaign.

Dr. Amish Shah can be characterized as a Renaissance Man.

His story as the son of Indian immigrants growing up in Chicago also epitomizes the American Dream.

An emergency and sports care physician, Dr. Shah also has a degree in Economics and philanthropic experience in combatting hunger.

He has also taught medical school students at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York and worked with the New York Jets.

Dr. Shah is currently serving his third term as a State Representative in the Arizona State Legislature.

During his time in the legislature, he has earned praise for his legislative work “including the Arizona Capitol Times’ Best Political Rising Star for two consecutive years, the Arizona Medical Association’s Distinguished Community Service Award, and the Humane Society’s Legislator of the Year. He is the recipient of the 2022 Legislator of the Year / Women’s Health Champion Award from the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology.”

On April 3, 2023, Dr. Shah declared his intention to pursue the Democratic Party nomination for the Arizona Congressional District (CD) One House seat currently occupied by David Schweikert.

In 2022, the contest for CD One was not decided for several days with the Democratic Nominee Jevin Hodge losing by less than one percent.

Suffice it to say, the Arizona CD One race will be on the national radar in 2024 as Democrats need only five seats to recapture the House of Representatives.

Dr. Shah would like to help make that happen.

In declaring his candidacy, Dr. Shah said:

“I am running for Congress because I have seen the difference a single person can make within government to improve people’s lives. Serving in Congress is an opportunity to make an even greater positive impact on issues affecting Arizona. Giving back is a core value for me. Because of the sacrifices of my parents, who both came to this country from India to pursue a better life, I was able to become a doctor, work onfield with the NFL, and be the first Indian American to serve in the Arizona legislature. We need to try to understand each other and navigate our differences if we hope to tackle vital issues facing our country such as public education, quality affordable health care, climate change, and voting rights. It would be an honor to address these issues on behalf of Arizonans in the U.S. Congress.”

Dr. Shah graciously took the time to discuss his candidacy for the House of Representatives.

The questions and his responses are below.

  • Please tell the voters at least three reasons they should vote for you over any Democrat or Republican for the CD One Arizona House seat.

“I am going to of course start with the way in which I’ve run my campaign. I have been a member of the Arizona House of Representatives now for five years. I’ve won three straight elections. And that was always based on the idea of getting to the constituents, knocking on their doors, listening to them, and establishing a grassroots relationship in the community. That is important to me to mention upfront because it’s authentic. It is how we’ve always engaged people and people have responded to that. It’s something that they’re overwhelmingly supportive of and they enjoy the idea of participating in a Democracy instead of feeling disconnected from it. I’m going to bring that same kind of approach to listening to the district.”

“The second reason is my experience at the legislature. After I’d done my door-knocking campaign out in the community, I went on a door-knocking campaign when I first got elected in the Capitol. That means going to every member, Democrat, and Republican, and trying to engage them in a conversation and find out a little about them. Where are you from? What are the issues that matter to you? And let’s see if we can find some places where we can start to work together and discuss these issues. That starts to build relationships and build trust. It’s the building block of politics itself.”

“I think that I’ve got a track record there of having results come out of that. I am the Democrat who has the greatest number of bills heard in committee out of the chamber signed into law compared to any other member of my party. That goes back to the entire time that I’ve been in the legislature. Also because of the way I work, creating dialogue, I’ve been honored to receive over a dozen awards for this kind of service at the Capitol. We received the Best Political Rising Star from the Arizona Capitol Times two years in a row. The. Arizona College of Obstetrics and Gynecology gave me the Women’s Health Champion Legislator of the Year Award last year for protecting women’s reproductive rights. I’m particularly proud of being the Humane Society’s Humane Legislator of the Year two times because one of the things that I love personally is advocating for animals down at the Capitol. I do want to mention to you also that one of my bills, House Bill 2564 was signed into law by Governor Katie Hobbs. It is the first Democratic bill of the year to be signed into law and I’m really proud of that. It’ll hopefully allow people to get adequate pain medicine treatment in Rural Arizona after hours. The problem we were having was that if you break your arm at 6:00 PM and there’s no 24-hour pharmacy around within 50 miles, then you may not be able to get adequate pain relief. That was a problem that we actually solved, brought by a real constituent. Tying in the first thing I said, the door knocking, hearing the constituents, taking their ideas and their problems, taking them to the political realm, solving those problems, and then getting those bills signed to solve their problems.”

“I am going to finish with the idea of healthcare policy. I have a master’s in public health from the University of California at Berkeley. What we did was study healthcare systems. I not only have the experience of dealing with patients, and treating them, saving lives in the emergency department for 20 years, (including residency,) but also looking at things system-wide. That’s why I’m the ranking member of the House Health and Human Services Committee and get into the weeds on healthcare policy across the state. A lot of healthcare policy is done at the federal level, which is part of the reason why I’m so interested in a federal seat.”

  • Please advise what are at least three main issues at this time in the House race. Please explain.

“The big issues that I’ve been concerned with in my time in politics are healthcare, education, and democracy. I’ve run every campaign with these three as the main pillars of my platform.”

“For me, healthcare is a right. Speaking from a physician’s point of view, I’m telling you healthcare is something that a lot of people cannot afford. The costs are too high. The hassles are too great for people. I want to see universal healthcare across this country. People should not have to go bankrupt because they just happen to get sick, and it happens all the time. So that’s really, important for me. Healthcare also includes women’s reproductive rights, as I mentioned, like the award I received last year on that very topic. A lot of health care policy happens at the federal level because it does have to do with Medicare and Medicaid financing, and of course, the federal government is in a place to be able to do that financially whereas the state government can manage Medicaid but doesn’t have the state budget to be able to do that.”

“The second issue I’m passionate about is education. The state of Arizona has had an underfunded education system. Yes, that happens a lot more at the state level, but there are things that the federal government does to augment that as well. It’s important to me because I’m where I am today because my teachers took an interest in me, and saw me as a good person, not just as a good student. The kindness of generosity of strangers, people I didn’t know, counselors, and medical school mentors helped me become the person I am and helped my career dreams come true. That opportunity should be available for every kid regardless of zip code. That’s not what’s going on today and it has to stop. We recognize right now that there’s a huge labor market shortage in many fields, not just healthcare, but you’ll see it in education and across the board. You can listen to the Chairman of the Federal Reserve and they’re talking about a structural labor force shortage that is alleviated and taken care of from our education system, creating a pipeline all the way from early childhood to getting through high school. Then comes either a four-year university community college, trade school, or something else that allows people to meet the world where we need them to be able to participate economically, to have control over their lives, and make themselves prosperous and make people prosperous those around them. The education system is a crucial part of that and a public good. And we haven’t really taken care of that pipeline, so we’ve got to invest in our own kids. That has always been very important to me.”

“Finally, I have run on this idea of a transparent democracy. I want everybody to have easy access to the ballot box and to be able to participate. I want to make sure that our elections are free and fair. In Arizona, for example, we have the initiative process, and I’ve voted consistently to protect that so that the voters get access to direct democracy.”

“You may have a couple other issues that people are clearly concerned about.

Housing and homelessness come up when I go knock on doors. People talk about this a lot. They say what are we doing about the housing crisis? We must get on top of that because there’s a supply-demand mismatch out there. Rents are rising very fast. Costs are rising too much for people. It causes a rise in transient homelessness. Some of our partners who deal with populations like that-stakeholders such as the Arizona Housing Coalition: the folks who work at Central Arizona Shelter Services. Those people have talked about the impact of rising housing costs on the populations they serve, and how it’s become harder to help people. We must stay on top of that. I’m encouraged that in a bipartisan way, people are very much paying attention to what the constituents are telling us and then trying to come up with solutions. There’s some disagreement on what those solutions might be but it’s clear that we have some lack of supply, and we need more development on the housing/homelessness issue.”

“Also, public safety. People are also concerned about a rise in crime. I hear it when I go knock on doors and speak to our constituents. I’ve been called several times to places in my district that are trouble spots. We’ve made some progress in some areas and less in others. It’s a big problem but there are also solutions that we can find that work.”

What is your position on funding the police?

“We must fund the police appropriately and adequately. What does that mean? It means that people deserve adequate service when they call 911. When there’s an incident that requires the police to be there, then you should expect a response time that is very adequate. You should expect that they treat you with professional courtesy and respect, just like it says on the side of the police car. It takes money, and that amount of money is set by cities. I know that the Phoenix Police Department is hiring. That’s where I live. That’s a lot of this congressional district. We also know that they do a dangerous job and that their salaries have to be commensurate with the job that they do. I believe in funding it adequately and having a public that is satisfied with the safety situation in their neighborhoods.”

What would be at least two ideas to combat inflation, even though it has been dropping for several consecutive months?

“Inflation is a tough problem. I’m an economics major, believe it or not, and I love the study of economics. The number one tool, as any good economic student talks about is our monetary policy. It comes from the Fed and what the Fed does is raise interest rates so that we squeeze the money supply. What we’ve seen in terms of energy prices and the price of gasoline, people are clearly concerned about it. And it ends up in other places too, such as food prices. I have so many small business owners in my district. Restaurant owners are telling me how much the cost of food has gone up, the cost of ingredients has gone up, and that it’s hard on their businesses. That is a tough thing. Then housing, which we talked about also. Monetary policy is the big thing. The other thing from an inflation perspective is to understand where there are critical needs. Then you must ask yourself, okay, do we want to do some kind of intervention specifically in certain places because we know people’s lives depend on that. That could be food or energy. Those could be critical access kinds of goods and services that you can say, okay, we’re going to help supplement those areas. Those are areas where the government’s getting complicated as far as policy goes, but I’m going to emphasize that the Fed (mostly by tightening monetary policy) is going to be your best bet for managing inflation.”

What is your view on comprehensive immigration reform?

Like inflation, it’s a very complicated issue. The border’s right here. What’s going on? Who’s coming? What are the processes by which they are approaching the border? How are we handling that situation?

There is a humanitarian crisis in that we see some of the pictures of what’s, going on there and hear some of the stories of people at the border. That is heartbreaking. We have inconsistent policies. That is one of the highlights that people have been talking about. We must be able to process people, so we figure out why they are coming. For economic reasons? Are they refugees or asylum seekers? Do they have family here? Once we figure that out, then we should be able to process those people in an appropriate way. The issue is that there’s a huge backlog there and because there’s a backlog we can’t process it as well. Then we have these other situations that happen and some of them are horrific, right? We’ve seen images in the past of children in cages and that’s not good. We certainly don’t want to go there. We want to make everything humane. We obviously don’t want people to suffer at the border. We also, want to be able to say when people are coming for economic reasons and they’re not committing crimes. Why can’t we get a guest worker program that seems to work? Process rapidly and have people, who are not guilty of any felonies, then go to work. So, the issue with that is, again, the processing time that I went back to. That’s what people want to see addressed because then those folks would be paying taxes. And not only that but supplying labor where labor is needed. I would support a pathway toward a green card that would involve a financial penalty above and beyond the legal system. We can satisfy the requirements of the business community there and treat people in a humanitarian way, in a humane way. It creates a win-win for everybody. I think that that can be part of a bipartisan solution.

  • Please describe your strategy to reach voters, including Independents and disaffected Republicans.

“I sound like a broken record sometimes when I say I’m going to knock on doors because that’s what I’ve done. In my very first campaign, I knocked on 8,034 doors to reach every precinct in my former district, LD 24. During this last campaign, I knocked on 5,000 doors. The campaign before that wasn’t competitive and I still knocked on thousands of doors. So a cumulative total of 15,000 doors. I go to those doors and it’s a point of pride for me. A lot of the strategy will also be to reach them through friends and neighbors, to reach them through all channels of mass communication. There’s no question we’re all going to do that. But I want to really emphasize that we have centered our campaign on, being out there and being in touch with people face to face. Because that’s what people want: they want to feel heard, and they want to know that somebody’s listening. And you wouldn’t believe how many people tell me that they have not felt connected to someone in office until I came knocking at their door and that they felt as though what happens in politics is somehow not connected to them. It happens “out there.” It happens at the State Capitol. It happens in Washington. But it doesn’t really seem to connect with me here at home, at my home, right? That strategy will be the centerpiece of what we do. And yes, it does get to people who are Democrats,  Independents, and Republicans because people start to understand when you have a dialogue and you hear different views, those that are not necessarily what you might support, then you can dive a little deeper and try to get to somebody’s intent, the way they see things, where their experience was in life. I grew up a certain way. You grew up a different way. That’s part of having that dialogue. It’s understanding people’s motivations. We can learn from each other.”

  • Is there anything not covered in the first three questions you would like to tell the readers about yourself or your candidacy for the House of Representatives?

“I grew up in Chicago and my personal story is one where I faced some racism when I was a kid. I was very lucky. The teachers saw me as somebody who was a good person and a good student, and they gave me a lot of confidence.  Actually, a lot of the kids who had been a certain way before thought differently as we got older. It was important for me to see that hearts can change, and minds can change. I took that positive message away that the world can change, and that kindness and generosity of people is the way in which our country should be. That’s a good vision for people supporting and uplifting each other, and I wanted to be in public service and be able to pass that forward. That’s why I’m in public service. That’s why I do this. That’s why I got into charity work before I did this. That’s why I got to the State House level, and why I want to make a bigger impact.”

“I’m now running for federal office because I think we should uplift one another. That’s the fundamental basis of building a community where we enjoy living as people. We enjoy each other’s company regardless of what our political affiliations are.”

“I think everybody also knows at the State House that I’m one of the biggest animal champions down there.  I’m always running bills to try to help animals and you will continue to see that from me. Animals are important to me because when I was a kid, it was one thing that really brought our family together.”

“We had two parakeets that my dad brought home. One day, they were brought home in these two little boxes, and my mom initially thought they were Munchkins from Dunking Donuts, but there were holes on the sides of the boxes. We looked in and there was this little eye that peered back at us. And as kids, we were just absolutely thrilled, but it was one of the greatest things my dad ever did. My mom said, ‘I wanted to make sure you kids were affectionate and kind.’ I think that’s the influence it had on us and I continue to promote animal advocacy whenever I can.”

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