Fresh face watch: Chintan Desai, a regional project manager for the KIPP Delta charter school operation, is running as a Democratic candidate for Congress in the 1st District, now represented by Republican Rep. Rick Crawford.

Desai, a California native and son of immigrants from India, came to Arkansas in 2010 with Teach for America.  He was a fifth-grade teacher at the KIPP school in Helena and then worked on Teach for America staff before returning to KIPP Delta. His website explains why he’s running:


The Natural State has always had a flair for creating unlikely leaders. My unlikely story began when my parents moved to this country with little money and even fewer friends. They lived the American Dream working hard every waking moment to provide their only child a bright future. I had opportunities beyond my wildest dreams- going to college to earn a degree and launching a career in education.

I moved to Helena to teach, and found a community brimming with promise and potential. I also discovered neighborhoods where the doors of opportunity are closed to far too many.

The challenges of today have come into focus. Our jobs may not exist a year from now. Drug addiction is claiming lives and destroying many more. There are parents fighting hard for a high-quality education for their children. And small business owners have seen high speed broadband revolutionize industry in big cities, but have been left watching on the sidelines. This is a moment that requires people who can bridge divides – between old and young, urban and rural, newcomers and natives – the same bridges I have spent my career building. I helped open a community center in the heart of Helena’s historic downtown and in doing so, witnessed the magic that can happen when community members join forces.

In today’s political climate we hear a lot about values. But my parents taught me that a person’s values have nothing to do with how they use that word in a political ad and everything to do with what they’ve spent their life doing. I’m Chintan Desai and I’m running for Congress because I believe in Arkansas. I believe that all Arkansans have the right to the same opportunities I’ve had in my life no matter where you live, no matter who your family is, no matter the color of your skin.

He also offers some bullet points of high interest:

* Making higher education more affordable.


* Closing the income and wealth inequality.

* Gun-control legislation that makes sense.


* Slowing climate change.

Robert Butler of Marmaduke also says he’s gathering signature on petitions to qualify for the Democratic primary ballot.


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