Mushtaq Tahirkheli

Mushtaq Tahirkheli, a Democrat from Lodi, plans to challenge Assemblymember Jim Cooper, D-Elk Grove, in the District 9 Assembly primary election in March.

District 9, which includes Elk Grove, extends from south Sacramento to Lodi.

Also planning to run against Cooper are Democrat Tracie Stafford and Peace and Freedom Party candidate Dennis Terrill.

Tahirkheli, a first-time political candidate, noted that he has considered running for political office for a long time.

“I had a longtime ambition to work for this country, for the state and (its) people, and I think this is the right time for me to make a decision,” he said.

Tahirkheli, who immigrated to America from Pakistan 30 years ago and moved to California more than five years ago, also identified running for office as part of his American dream.

Before coming to California, he worked for a mechanical equipment manufacturing company in North Carolina.

This candidate said that his main goal in serving District 9 is to “make dreams come true for working-class people.”

“The majority (of working-class people) do not have $3,000 in their bank account,” he said. “They’re growing poorer and poorer, and the rich are growing richer and richer. See, that is a problem.”

Tahirkheli expressed concerns with the effect that large corporations such as Walmart, Costco and Target have on small businesses.

He noted that if elected, he would urge the federal government to require that Walmart compensate small businesses that have experienced any proven losses due to its nearby operation.

“I’m not against big businesses, because they give a lot of taxes to the federal and state (governments),” he said. “But the problem with (Walmart) is, due to their presence, the small businesses have been affected and a lot of businesses have been closed.”

Tahirkheli added that it should be less difficult to establish a small business.

“One time, I was going to start a small business, (but) I had (to deal with) too many rules and regulations, and I could not afford it,” he said.

To improve the area’s economy, Tahirkheli noted that he plans to encourage businesses to operate within District 9.

The candidate additionally wants to provide more assistance for disabled seniors and veterans, and extra funding for law enforcement.

As for veterans, Tahirkheli desires to help those who have not obtained the benefits that are owed to them.

Asked about the cost of housing in the state, Tahirkheli expressed a need for a reduction in real estate prices.

“The price of the houses and the land must be lowered, so everybody (has) their own house,” he said.

Tahirkheli mentioned that he is interested in helping California Northstate University obtain $900 million in tax-exempt revenue bonds through the California Public Finance Authority for its proposed hospital in the Stonelake neighborhood.

“If I was elected, I would try to help this idea, because to make a hospital is a good thing,” he said. “It helps the people.”

Tahirkheli admitted that he is playing catch-up to Cooper who has more campaign dollars and is more familiar with the district.

“(Cooper) has more resources than me, but I will do what’s best for the community people,” he said. “From next Monday, I will go to different cities and try to find their problems. But I like Elk Grove because there are a lot of new industries there.

“I’m working really hard. I’m making a separate committee to work in Elk Grove and every city (in the district).”

Tahirkheli added that he feels he will represent the district well.

“I hope the people will like me,” he said. “I’m a working-class man, and the majority of the people are like me.”