The United States is becoming more diverse and so is Connecticut. According to the newest Census numbers, all but two Connecticut communities grew more diverse over the previous decade. One such community is Rocky Hill, which I am proud to serve as a Town Councilor. More than 19% of Rocky Hill’s population are Asian, according to the 2020 Census. From 2010 to 2020, Rocky Hill’s Asian population grew by roughly 9%, while the town ‘s overall population grew by roughly 6%, the most of any town in the Hartford County.
A byproduct of this increasing diversity is a steady but slow increase in elected officials and candidates for public office around the state who are immigrants and naturalized citizens. Naturalized citizens of all political stripes bring their own distinct backgrounds and experiences to our political process, making our democracy more representative and vibrant.
I am an example of this change. I have experienced America as an international student from India, as a professional working on a work visa, as a permanent resident, and eventually as a proud American citizen. I have lived the life of a teaching assistant, a restaurant server, an engineer, a data scientist, a business school professor, and an elected official. I am blessed to be living the American Dream. I am running for State Representative in Rocky Hill and Wethersfield, because, as an immigrant, I want to continue to give back to the community that has given me the opportunity to succeed. I believe that I bring the diversity of my life experiences to the race in November, and we need more leaders that bring their unique perspectives and ideas to public policy, while reflecting the shared values of their communities.
In the last several years, Connecticut has had its share of candidates with immigrant heritage who ran successful races for the State House and State Senate. There are also candidates who ran unsuccessfully vying for their party’s nomination for statewide office of Governor and Treasurer. And then there are several others who run for their local Town Councils and Boards of Education every year. Win or lose, these candidates represent both major political parties and reflect the diversity of political preferences, and the diversity of the communities they represent or seek to represent. But we can do more here in Connecticut. According to a report by New American Leaders on the state of representation in state legislatures around the country, naturalized citizens make up 10% percent of Connecticut’s voting age population, but only 1% percent of our state legislators are new Americans.
In our system of governance, state and local government affects our daily lives in the most profound ways. Arguably, more so than the federal government. Local leaders like me, in towns like Rocky Hill, decide public policy on issues like property taxes, schools, and public safety, enact zoning laws, and run important public services like trash pickup and snow removal.
It is time for more new Americans to volunteer on our town boards and commissions, shape our communities, and participate at the grassroots of this 246-year-old great American democratic experiment.
Prakash, who currently serves as town councilor in Rocky Hill, is the Republican candidate for House Dist. 29, representing Rocky Hill and Wethersfield. You can find out more about his candidacy at www.prakash4ct.com