This story was originally published on http://lompocrecord.com.
This is the third in a series of profiles on candidates running to represent the 24th Congressional District. The district contains all of Santa Barbara and San Luis Obispo counties, along with a sliver of Ventura County.
Santa Barbara native Justin Fareed hopes to fix what he calls a broken system in 2016, when voters of the 24th Congressional District have the opportunity to send him to Washington, D.C.
“It’s been a long time since we had a genuine representative from the Central Coast who is working to serve the needs of all of us,” Fareed said. “So, I’m running for Congress to bring that voice, to bring reforms to that body to get it working again and to be able to solve the long-range issues that our country faces.”
At 27, Fareed is the youngest candidate vying for the position.
“Most of my opponents have been in politics longer than I’ve been alive,” he said. “It’s not necessarily about how long you’ve been in the arena; it’s your character, your personality and how relentless you are to get something done with an open mind.”
Those are traits Fareed believes he’s picked up, having seen firsthand how Washington works when he served under Rep. Ed Whitfield, R-Kentucky, as a legislative assistant.
“I saw how dysfunctional that system is today,” Fareed said. “You hear a lot of political rhetoric, petty bickering and divisive politics but no substance that’s actually coming to the table.”
During his tenure, Fareed dealt with a wide variety of issues, he said.
“I was hired at a relatively high-level position with no background in working in politics,” he said. “I dealt with issues from foreign policy to agriculture.”
Fareed believes the biggest needs for the 24th Congressional District is a long-term water policy, along with infrastructure improvements. Creating a business-friendly environment also is vital, he added.
“We need an environment where businesses and entrepreneurs can succeed, because that’s where the job creation, the innovation comes from, so we need a regulatory policy that keeps that in mind,” he said.
Fareed also is in favor of an education system that actually works, he said.
“I think our education system in this county is in peril,” he said. “I believe California is 46th out of the 50 states, and the United States isn’t even among the top 30 among developed nations in the world today.”
But fixing Washington is his biggest priority, and that starts with getting the budget back in order.
“We can’t spend more than we take in and expect to succeed,” Fareed said. “The people that are going to be hit with this bill are the next generation of voters. We’re the ones that don’t have a voice in Congress.”
And it appears that voters are listening to his message, as Fareed has placed second in campaign contributions so far, racking up more than $432,000. The effort is one Fareed is particularly pleased with, especially since many of his opponents have been in politics a lot longer, he said.
“They’ve all been serving in office and have a lot of IOUs to collect for favors that they’ve done, so the fact that there’s somebody who is not beholden to anybody, who is able to get that kind of support, I think, is a good indicator of the direction that we are headed in,” he said.
Fareed hopes that trend continues the rest of the way.
“No good policy is ever going to come from this institution that currently exists, and my opponents have grown up and been in politics long enough, one of which has been there his entire career,” Fareed said. “If we’re going to get Congress back on track, we’ve got to change the type of people we’re sending there.”