Washington, DC – Milad Pooran, MD, has served this country on many fronts in the medical field, from the Office of Health and Human Services to being deployed as an Air Force medic in Operation Iraqi Freedom, rising to the rank of Lieutenant Colonel. After a long career in healthcare, Milad is still ready to serve his country, but this time as the representative of the recently redistricted 6th Congressional District of Maryland. The new district lines were changed last year; it now includes more diverse communities and Democratic-leaning Washington D.C. suburbs, which puts Milad at a greater advantage in unseating long-standing Republican incumbent Roscoe Bartlett.
Milad and his parents immigrated and moved to Beltsville, Maryland when he was six years old, meaning that if Milad succeeds in his campaign, he could possibly be the United States’ first Iranian-American congressman.
We recently had a chance to speak with Milad about his campaign.
What has been your main inspiration for seeking public office?
Milad: My inspiration has simply been my desire to give back to America through public service. My family came to America when I was six, and I have been afforded opportunities to live freely, educate myself, achieve my medical degree and serve in the military. Public office is the least I can do to give back to our country.
What steps are you taking in order to run an effective campaign?
Milad: Campaigns are about communicating with voters, and raising money is the most important component of communication. That money allows me to reach voters through TV commercials, mail and phone calls to tell them about my story and my message of service. In addition to continuing to raise money, I have secured important endorsements from former Presidential candidate and Democratic Party Chair Howard Dean, and Congressmen Keith Ellison and Raul Grijalva. I continue to attend debates and forums with other candidates and have been exceptionally well received by voters.
During a time in which many American voters are becoming disillusioned by the partisan gridlock plaguing Congress, what new outsider perspectives and strategies would you bring to Washington to help facilitate cooperation and progress on the national front?
Milad: I will bring a common-sense perspective to Congress. Remarkably, we have broad national agreement on so many issues from tax policy to women’s health issues to social security and Medicare, yet we continue to argue over issues that were decided decades ago. As a doctor, I am trained to bring a fact-based approach to solving medical issues. As a Congressman, I will do the same.
How will you utilize your experience in medicine to address issues in health care reform?
Milad: As a doctor, I will bring a fact-based, knowledge-driven approach to health care issues. We have the most expensive health care in the world, and I know for a fact that it does not need to be that way. The President’s health care bill will result in a dramatic reduction of costs to our health care system, and will bring improved coverage and service. I hope to improve on it in Congress.
What are your plans to encourage job-creation and economic growth in your constituency that can be applied as a model for the country as a whole?
With ordinary Iranians as well as Iranian-Americans being negatively impacted by the new economic sanctions, how do you respond to the increasing sentiment in Washington that sanctions must be continued and even furthered in order to pressure the Iranian government?
Milad: We must keep available all the tools in our foreign relations toolbox, and narrowly targeted sanctions are one of those tools. That being said, any sanctions against a nation can have unintended consequences that harm blameless citizens and can achieve the opposite effect of what is intended.
Given your unique perspective of serving in the United States armed forces and being part of the Iranian-American community, how do you respond to the calls for military intervention if the Iranian government is indeed confirmed to be aggressively pursuing a nuclear weapon? Do you believe the American military is prepared for another armed conflict in the Middle East?
Milad: As a combat medic serving wounded soldiers from Iraq and Afghanistan, I have seen far, far too many young and courageous Americans, who sought nothing more than to serve our country, return home either in caskets or severely damaged, physically and/or emotionally. I do not want to see any more of our kids, our parents, our neighbors affected like this. As a nation, we must keep all of our options on the table, and to rule out military action would be a mistake. However, no military expert with whom I have spoken believes that armed conflict with Iran, in a manner similar to Iraq and Afghanistan, is logistically feasible or wise. After Afghanistan and Iraq, we as a nation must have a very high threshold to commit more blood and treasure to another military operation in the Middle East or elsewhere.
How can the Iranian-American community help with your campaign?
Milad: As we hit the last days of this campaign, donations and fundraising remain critical, but also following us on Facebook and Twitter is a great idea http://miladforcongress.com/home/. We have taken to the road and always need people to come to our events. And with Election Day on April 3, Please vote if you live in Maryland!
What is your advice for other Iranian-Americans that want to get involved in public office?
Milad: The most important advice is not to think that you cannot run for office just because of your heritage. Outside of that, the best advice I can give is to get up and get involved on a campaign, or with your local political committee, Republican, Democrat, Green, or Libertarian. Our government won’t work properly unless we all participate.
Are there opportunities for Iranian-American students to get involved in your campaign?
Milad: We have plenty of things for volunteers to do here in the last few days of the campaign, from phone-banking to staffing events. Call our headquarters at 240-745-1231, or sign up at miladforcongress.com! And, don’t forget to vote on Tuesday, April 3!