I’m writing in my personal capacity and not as a representative of any organization to introduce you to an exciting young candidate for Congress in California’s 32nd District that I am supporting with a whole heart – Aarika Rhodes.
Aarika is an award-winning beloved elementary school science and math teacher, is liberal-progressive in her policy positions, is an inspirational and focused leader who hopes to make a difference in the quality of life not only for those living in her district but throughout the country. Her policy concerns include promoting education reform, parental leave, and foster care reform; addressing the socioeconomic conditions that give rise to poverty, hunger, and homelessness; promoting universal basic income, climate change, immigration, and criminal justice reform; expanding Medicare and a host of other issues (see website link below).
Aarika believes in working together with everyone (left, right, and center on the political spectrum) and bringing people of different backgrounds (racial, ethnic, national, and religious) together to find common ground and get important things done. By nature, she is a people-person, moderate in temperament, without guile, smart, curious, and well-spoken, energetic, and politically savvy. She hopes to be a model of honest and inspirational leadership for people of all ages, especially children and young people who she believes need positive role models to inspire them to engage in politics and public service.
Though Aarika has not held political office before, she has been an activist in a number of political campaigns including on behalf of Vice President Kamala Harris and Andrew Yang (with whom she is personally close) in each of their presidential campaigns.
Aarika is challenging Congressman Brad Sherman in the June primary election. Her goal is to win one of the top two spots to qualify her for the run-off in the 2022 general election. She is the most serious challenger to Sherman among four or five other candidates.
As a woman of color (Aarika’s father is African-American and her mother is Chinese-American), I wanted especially to know her positions on Israel and peace with the Palestinians. She told me (without knowing my background as an American Progressive Zionist Rabbinic leader) that she strongly supports Israel’s security, is for a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, justice for the Palestinian people, and had she been in Congress she would have voted for the recent $1 billion Iron Dome bill for Israel after the last Hamas-Israel war.
I was comfortable with her views, and so I offered to be an advisor to her on Israel and Middle East affairs. She welcomed my help whole-heartedly.
California’s 32nd congressional district covers communities in the San Fernando Valley of Los Angeles and parts of Simi Valley including Toluca Lake, Studio city, Sherman Oaks, Encino, Tarzana, Woodland Hills, Chatsworth, Northridge, Porter Ranch, Reseda, Canoga Park, and Pacific Palisades. Of the 764,000 voters in the district, 105,000 are Jews and 50% of the district is white (according to a 2013 demographic analysis). Given Sherman’s years representing the district, Aarika needs help advancing her candidacy into this community. She personally is making 1000 cold calls every week, canvassing the district everywhere, meeting small business owners one-by-one (her father is a small business owner), visiting community gatherings across the district, sharing her positions and approach to public service, and listening to everyone’s concerns. She is doing all of this while working full-time as an elementary school teacher.
I rarely speak to cold-callers on the phone – but I did with Aarika. It was as if she reached through the ether and drew me into her spirit.
Why am I supporting Aarika against Democratic Congressman Brad Sherman?
- I agree with her on 85-90% of the issues.
- I am a progressive American Zionist and Sherman’s positions vis a vis the Israeli-Palestinian conflict are far to the right of my own.
- It is time for a change in the congressional leadership of CA-32. Aarika Rhodes represents a new generation of young, dynamic, smart, able, compassionate, and can-do leaders who cares about people, equality, and justice, is humble, and wants to serve. She feels an affinity with the Jewish community and would be an important ally in Congress on issues domestic and foreign that the liberal American Jewish community supports.
I include below the link to Aarika’s website and a few short campaign videos so you can get a feel for her dynamism, political concerns, and positions (check her policy positions most especially).
Aarika would love to meet or speak with anyone who cares to know her personally and her positions on the issues. Let me know if you are interested and I will make an introduction. She is worthy of your time and all our support whether or not you live in her district. As a Member of Congress, she would represent all of us. I believe in her and recommend her highly to you.
Aarika needs financial support to mount the kind of campaign necessary to win one of the top vote-getting spots in the June primary election. I hope you will consider contributing to her. There is a link on her campaign website. I know that Aarika would be grateful.
Aarika Rhode’s Website – https://www.aarikaforcongress.com/
Aarika’s Campaign Videos