Candidate Profile: Shireen Ghorbani, UT-02

“I see decisions being made everyday that violate the values that Utahns and Americans hold dear” said Shireen Ghorbani. “I am deeply troubled by the President’s actions and words that harm immigrants, specifically people of color, in this country.”

A proud first-generation Iranian American, University of Utah employee, and full-time mom, Ghorbani is running for U.S. Congress to represent Utah’s 2nd District. As the daughter of an Iranian immigrant, Shireen is “particularly distressed by the travel ban,” because “under this ban, families like [her] own are kept apart,” something that is unacceptable to her. If elected, Shireen will “support Congressional efforts to defund and rescind the Muslim ban,” including the Statue of Liberty Values Act that has been introduced in the House of Representatives. Shireen believes that “this ban is misguided and harmful” with “no evidence that it makes us any safer.”

In response to the Trump administration’s recent actions towards Iran, Shireen says she feels considerably less safe with the current president’s “saber-rattling” when there is no discernable plan in place. She also suggests Trump’s actions toward Iran are “distractions for a series of failed policies and scandals plaguing the administration.”

Hailing from outside of Bismarck, North Dakota, Shireen earned her Bachelor of Arts in Theatre and Communication Studies in 2013 from St. Cloud State University. Shireen and her fiance spent two years serving in the United States Peace Corps in the Republic of Moldova, an experience that has helped shape her campaign.

Shireen later went on to earn her Master of Arts in Communication Studies from University of Nebraska-Lincoln, and her Master of Philosophy in Organizational Communication and Policy from the University of Utah. She currently works as the Associate Director for Organizational Development and Communications for the University of Utah and is board chair of a local center that serves victims of sexual violence.

Shireen is challenging Republican incumbent Chris Stewart this November. Her campaign is focused on building grassroots support and Shireen is refusing any corporate donations.  Instead, she is focused on an “aggressive ground game…knock[ing] on thousands of doors across [the] state.” If elected, Shireen would become the first Iranian American in Congress, something she hopes will “start a movement for more people with deeper roots to the community to have a seat at the table.”  

Candidate Profile: Melody Shekari, TN-28

“As the daughter of immigrants, I have watched firsthand our family’s fulfillment of the American Dream,” says Melody Shekari, “through hard work, struggle, and the many kindnesses of so many people, we have built a comfortable life in the US and have been able to give back to our community as well.”

As a proud first-generation Iranian American, and an accomplished attorney and community advocate, Shekari is running to represent the 28th District in Tennessee’s State House of Representatives. Born in Texas and raised in Chattanooga, Melody went on to earn a Bachelor’s of Science Degree in Economics from Bentley University, a Masters of Public Administration from the University of Washington, and a Juris Doctor from the University of Southern California Gould School of Law.

Shekari decided to return to Chattanooga following her education and serve her community in various capacities, including as a board member on both the American Civil Liberties Union of Tennessee (ACLU) and the American Red Cross of Southeast Tennessee, as well as a founding member of the Empower Women PAC.

Advocating for the rights of all immigrants is a key issue to Melody and educating the immigrant community on these issues is vital: “As an attorney, I have become concerned with the infringement of the civil rights of all immigrants. I work with immigrant communities (including Iranian-Americans) to help them understand and advocate for their rights.” Melody is highly critical of President Trump’s Executive order, banning immigration from five Muslim majority countries, “I absolutely oppose Trump’s ban on immigration from Muslim countries. This is nothing more than blatant discrimination.”

In response to President Trump’s decision to withdraw from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, Melody has pledged to oppose any and all efforts at the state level that would undermine the tenants of the agreement. “By all accounts (even independent inspectors), Iran has been in compliance with this treaty.  There is no reason to rescind this agreement. What does it say to the world, if the US cannot be counted on to keep its word? We must continue to stand with our allies in support of the JCPOA,” says Melody.

In 2016, Melody decided to run for a House seat in Tennessee’s 3rd Congressional District. While she was ultimately not able to pull off an upset in this heavily Republican district, she did manage to win the Democratic nomination. Now, as she runs for a seat in the state legislature, she comes to the campaign with a unique set of skills honed on the trail in 2016.

With incumbent Democrat JoAnne Favors vacating her seat in the 28th district of the Tennessee House, a highly competitive field of five candidates is facing off in the Democratic primary. The winner will face Republican Lemon C. Williams in the November 6th general election.

Melody truly believes if she is elected she can institute change and improve the lives of her constituents, “I am running for State Legislature in Tennessee to make sure that every person can achieve his or her unique American Dream. There is nothing that cannot be achieved if we all work together. I want to move beyond today’s divisive partisan politics, and work with my colleagues to begin to get things done.”

To learn more about Melody’s campaign visit: http://www.melodyshekari.com/.

Melody’s primary election is set for August 2nd.