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Patel in AL-2 race: ‘make our government more efficient, less intrusive, more productive’

Name: Vimal Patel
Party: Democrat
City of residence: Troy
Age: 39
Occupation: Hospitality management
Previous elected offices or applicable experience: President of Dothan Tuesday Rotary Club, vice president of India Association of South Alabama
Education: Bachelor’s degree from Auburn University
Why should district residents vote for you on March 5: “From me, you’re going to hear about things that make our government more efficient, that make it less intrusive, and make it more productive.”

MONTGOMERY, Ala. — Business owner and Troy resident Vimal Patel is looking to shake things up in Washington, D.C. with his bid to represent Alabama’s Second Congressional District.

He recently told Alabama Daily News about several unconventional approaches he argues would help the federal government work more efficiently and less intrusive.

“When we created the House of Representatives, we wanted to elect someone to represent their district, and then come back home; what’s happened now is we’ve started electing people who make politics a career, (and) it’s created all of our issues,” Patel told ADN. 

“I’m not that way, so I’m running as what our House was designed (for). I’m a businessman, I’m very devout in terms of my family, my faith, and I don’t want to live in D.C., I want to work for my district and then come back home.”

Patel works in the hospitality industry and runs several hotels across the state, while also serving as the president of the Dothan Tuesday Rotary Club, and the vice president of the India Association of South Alabama. He earned a bachelor’s in political science from Auburn University, but outside of a previous run for District 2 in 2022, has no political experience.

His lack of political experience, Patel argued, was an asset, rather than a liability.

“I’m not a career politician,” he said. “The experience that we need, I have it in terms of leadership, productivity and common sense.”

If elected, Patel said that one of his biggest priorities would be to reform education, particularly school curriculums by including more relevant material such as mental health education, something that he said was already “decades late.”

“Our curriculum no longer reflects what’s necessary for our kids today,” he said. 

“I’m not going to get in a situation where I take a pot shot at Shakespeare, but the reality is that to add to or revise our curriculum, we’ll need to lose parts of the curriculum. I think in a day like 2024, for us not to have a clear edict on mental health is a travesty, (and) I don’t hear a lot of the other candidates talk about this. That’s a huge issue we’re way behind in.”

Other reforms Patel advocated for were to include more education on financial responsibility, and more general life skills that he argued were more relevant in the 21st century.

Improving teacher salaries was another priority Patel noted, a goal he said could be accomplished by instituting a federal incentive structure much like the Affordable Care Act, which awarded states for expanding their Medicaid programs, to incentivize states to improve teacher pay.

Patel also leaned into his business experience, arguing that he was among the most pro-business candidates in the race.

“When you go back and say what really makes Vimal pro-business, one of the things last cycle, every candidate on the Democratic ticket, when we started that campaign, everybody had vouched for a $15 minimum wage,” he said. 

“I was the one on stage that said I have small businesses, all my friends are in small businesses, and I agree it needs to go up, but South Alabama is not ready for $15 an hour.”

On making the government more efficient, Patel made several cost-saving measures he felt could significantly reduce the federal deficit, measures like halting the production of pennies, incentivizing citizens to seek preventative care and rethinking government agency budgets.

“Before we talk about slashing department funding, we need to be talking about leveling off department funding,” he said. 

“If, for example, I’m saying I’m going to allocate X amount of dollars to a department this year, and 5% to 10% more the following year, you may want to stymie it first, you may want to say let’s not increase that budget by default.”

Other, perhaps less touted legislative priorities Patel noted when compared to other candidates included reforming credit scores, something he said was crippling for those with low credit scores.

“I’m not a career politician, my vision also separates us (from the other candidates),” he said. “From me, you’re going to hear about things that make our government more efficient, that make it less intrusive, and make it more productive.”

The primary election is March 5.

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