Muslims Show Support for Dave Jones in California Attorney General Race
By Ras H. Siddiqui
California’s Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones is going to be terming out of his position next year (two term limit) and has now set his sights on becoming the Attorney General of our Golden State. The elections for that office will be held in November, 2018, just about a year from now, but his campaign has already started with the launch of an impressive website http://www.davejones2018.com/and statewide fundraisers that are being held at various locations.
We caught up with Dave at one such event in Granite Bay, California on Wednesday, October 18th at the residence of the Sharif family. In attendance were neighbors, friends and many representatives of the area Middle Eastern and South Asian community. Mahmud Sharif is a great host and the hospitality of his family was deeply appreciated by all in attendance. A social hour and a wonderful Mediterranean dinner started the evening.
During a dinner interview this writer asked Dave why he was running for this office. He said that he has been a public interest lawyer during his entire career, and has provided free legal assistance to poor families. He added that he has worked for a non-profit organization helping low income families with their legal problems. He pursued law because he had a passion for social justice and the Attorney General’s office is in some ways the ultimate expression of that pursuit. With this background he would use that office to best serve California and Californians.
Dave has over the years reached out to many ethnicities in the Sacramento area, and I asked him about that. He said that he had a good relationship with the Arab and Muslim-American community, Latinos, Asian and Pacific Islanders, the African-American community, and the Slavic community, all because there is so much diversity in Sacramento and that these relationships have been extended to his statewide role as well.
On DACA, Dave said that he strongly supported it and opposed attempts by the President to end it. He said that he also supported a path to citizenship for those undocumented who have not committed serious crimes. He added that in reality we are all immigrants (including his own family and that of his wife), except for the Native Americans, and the African Americans who were brought here in chains. He also said that today’s immigrants are looking for the same things as every generation here has looked for before - economic opportunity, safety and security for families, and political freedom. And that is what this country is about. He added that he was very supportive of all of these things and as Attorney General he would defend them.
Jones explained that these are challenging times for our community, but there are many people of goodwill in leadership roles in California who are very supportive of the Muslim-American community specifically. They will come to their defense, and he was certainly one of those people.
Going back to the event, our host Mahmud Sharif spoke briefly and thanked everyone for attending. He invited Mrs Durriya Syed who does a great deal of interfaith and community outreach work in the Sacramento area, to make the introductions. Ms Syed started the post-dinner formalities on a humorous note. Thanking the hosts, she added that their Sharif Jewelers business has been very supportive of many good causes in the greater Sacramento area and has donated many fine rings for fundraising event auctions on her request. She pointed out that our host has given her more diamond rings than her husband ever has! She also introduced Dave Jones and invited him to speak.
Dave started off by thanking everyone present for supporting his candidacy. He said that it meant a great deal to him to have this help, both individually and as a community, to ensure that the Attorney General’s office is occupied by the person who is best qualified to hold the position and upholds California values. He added that he was excited about this campaign and appreciated the support that he was getting from all over the state from both urban and rural areas. He also said that our willingness to help his campaign financially gives him the resources to be successful. Dave shared with us the strategic aspect of spending during campaigns for public office, starting with tight control on expenditures till the time the election is much closer and when the voters are really paying attention. At this point spreading the word through social media and word of mouth is very important, he said.
Jones spoke about his primary opponent Xavier Becerra, the incumbent, whom he is going to have to unseat. He said that it is important to remember his opponent was appointed and not elected to his current position (Becerra was appointed by Governor Brown after that position was vacated by now US Senator Kamala Harris). He also said that for the past 22 years his opponent has also had an inactive Bar license and has not been practicing law, while he (Jones) has been actively engaged in the profession.
Candidate Dave Jones did not ignore his current position as Insurance Commissioner here either. He ended his talk on a somber note, including grieving for the lives lost while describing the devastation caused by the recent wildfires burning in our state and his several visits to the impacted areas. He said that part of his job is to make sure that the insurance companies have enough money to pay claims, and they do. He added that we are not going to have an issue (of liquidity) even though close to 6,000 structures have been destroyed. We have made sure that they have sufficient reserves, he said. He also said that he is making sure that they are cutting red tape so that those impacted are getting their money quickly, especially the people who have immediate needs and are out of their homes, for lodging, food and transportation. He said that he wanted to make sure that the insurers are on site (processing claims) and that they are adequately staffed. “This is going to be a long road to recovery,” said Jones. “I can’t tell you how heartbreaking it is to see whole neighborhoods laid to waste.”