INDIAN-AMERICAN ENGINEER, ACTIVIST, RUNNING FOR MICHIGAN STATE HOUSE
By Ela Dutt - January 3, 2018
An Indian-American woman has declared her run for the Michigan House of Representatives from District 41 which is currently represented by a Republican.
Democrat Padma Kuppa, an engineer by training, who was born in India and raised in New York, says she is “one of the biggest fans of Michigan you’ll ever meet.” She came to Detroit twenty years ago attracted by the manufacturing industry, and worked for some of the biggest automotive firms. While her kids were in elementary school, Kuppa rejoined the work force at a Troy, Michigan-based small business, according to her biography on Facebook.
“I’ve been involved with the community for decades,” Kuppa told Desi Talk. She spent considerable time volunteering in community groups such as Troy’s Ethnic Issues Advisory Board, the Troy Community Coalition, and the Troy Futures process, and helped create a more inclusive National Day of Prayer celebration. She also founded the Detroit Area Interfaith Group, Kuppa told Desi Talk. She volunteered in the effort to make the Troy Historic Society a destination for its Civil War Day immersion program, and for its Many Stories, One Heritage initiative, recognizing the multicultural character of the city. This was apart from her engagement with the elementary school her children attended, and starting the International Academy East’s Music Parent Association.
As a Troy Planning Commissioner for more than two years, Kuppa says she worked hard to encourage economic development in an environmentally responsible manner. Last year, in a bid to protect the Triple A Bond rating of the city, she worked in building a coalition across the political spectrum to successfully defeat the extreme Charter Amendment.
“People know me and how I can bring different people together,” Kuppa said. At this “historic moment” in the nation and in Michigan, she said, she wants to make sure Michigan remains more inclusive and welcoming.
On Jan. 1, she held her first campaign event, which was attended by more than 100 people, including four Democratic State Representatives, she said. “I’m fairly confident that my potential colleagues in the State House are looking forward to having me there because of our shared values,” Kuppa said, implying her chances for the April primary may be good.
It’s still early days however, and Kuppa is putting her campaign team together and assessing her funding needs for the fight ahead.
The open primary for the election is scheduled for Aug. 7, and so far Kuppa is not being challenged by any other Democrat for the party’s endorsement. But someone else from her own party could throw their hat in the ring by the April filing deadline for the primaries.
If Kuppa secures one of the top two positions in the primary, she will go on to confront Republican Ethan Baker, a Troy councilman who has thrown his hat in the ring. Incumbent Republican Martin Howrylak retires at the end of his third term. Michigan State Representatives are limited to three terms of two years each. Howrylak has handily defeated previous opponents whether from his own party during the primaries, or in the general election. In the 2016 elections, Howrylak defeated Democrat Cindy Peltonen 56.45 percent to 43.55 percent, according to Ballotpedia, which could indicate Kuppa has a challenging race ahead of her if she gets through the primaries.
Since 2011, Republicans have controlled the State House by a 63-47 margin since 2016, and today control the State Senate as well as the gubernatorial office, Ballotpedia reported.
As a Democrat, Kuppa hopes to flip one of the 17 seats her party needs to get to a majority in the House.