Anita Malik, an Indian American entrepreneur, has given up an executive position at a Phoenix, Ariz., company to bring about change to the state’s 6th Congressional District.

Malik, who has a bachelor’s degrees in computer information systems and finance from Arizona State University and a master’s in broadcast journalism from the University of Southern California, said she has always been interested in politics, though her earlier plans to run for office may have had a different trajectory.

“I definitely didn’t anticipate running now,” Malik told India-West, adding that her initial plan down the road would be to run for something local after retiring from her tech-based career. “But starting last September, I began to feel more urgency,” the Democratic candidate said.

“The ugliness of the presidential campaign and the realization that hate and prejudice were becoming a political issue saddened me and angered me,” she explained. “The noise and distraction felt overwhelming, and I was left wondering where the progress was. After the (November 2016 general) election, that feeling continued. So I decided to put some serious thought into running.”

After consulting people close to her and the local political community, her decision to run in the 2018 election was solidified.

Malik resigned from her chief operating officer post at Phoenix-based ClearVoice in May to focus on her campaign, with hopes of winning the seat from two-term Republican incumbent David Schweikert.

“I realized that my skills are needed now. My ability to bridge the gap and to listen to find solutions is what leadership in Washington should be about. It is something we need,” Malik asserted to India-West.

The first generation Indian American said she knows what it is like to struggle, to be different and to be judged because of her skin color. She credits her parents for understanding the American dream but now, with the influx in hate crimes, she said she is “saddened about where we are” as a nation.

In addition to her time at ClearVoice, Malik has held numerous positions and leadership roles in the tech industry. Among her stints include vice president of content operations at iAcquire, co-founder of BrideRush, managing editor and content director of Jawa, and IT consultant of Proex Systems Solutions, among others.

She believes her experience as an executive and entrepreneur will help in bringing about change in the 6th Congressional District, if elected in the predominantly Republican voting district.

“I’m known for getting things done. That is simply verbatim from people that have worked on teams for me and from my peers,” she told India-West. “No matter what industry, I am able to succeed and effect change for the better because I am a firm believer in empathic leadership. I know how to build and drive teams successfully.”

As part of her campaign, Malik has numerous issues she hopes to address, among them the economy, healthcare, gun safety and education. The candidate says bringing equality back to the economy is key.

“The middle class isn’t what it used to be and that has to change,” she declared. “If we can’t level the playing field and remove struggle from the lives of so many Americans, how do we expect to innovate and lead the global economy? How do we expect to prosper?  When people are living paycheck to paycheck, stress and strain take over. Wellness is overlooked. We are in a vicious cycle,” she added.

But it’s not just the economy that needs to be resolved. She noted that to do that would mean raising the minimum wage, supporting college affordability reform, providing universal early education and childcare, and mandating equal pay for equal work.

Another concern of Malik’s is campaign finance reform. She says that when money is so prevalent in campaigns, democracy isn’t real anymore.

“Limits need to imposed, dark money must be eliminated,” she told India-West. “Citizen’s United has to be overturned, and while we are at, we need to reevaluate term limits for federal positions.”

Malik — a wife and mother of two — says she is the only candidate who has the know-how to inspire groups and engage them.

“That is what we need to take back this House seat,” she stressed. “This must be about empathic leadership and qualified legislators ready to do the work and make incremental progress so we are moving forward again.”

And while Malik hopes to gain this seat in the 2018 elections, she admitted the intention of running now isn’t about kick-starting her political career. Instead, the Indian American said it’s about delivering “positive change” as well as bringing the district and nation “back to a place of progress.”

That said, Malik isn’t immediately closing the door on a career in public service.

“I am here to make a change, and I will follow the path that helps me do that in the most effective way.”

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