Shireen Ghorbani
Shireen Ghorbani is the Democratic candidate for Utah's 2nd Congressional District.

A decade ago, my family moved to Utah for many of the same reasons that you may be here now — a strong economy, the spectacular landscape and the “peculiar” people. In 49 other states, that description may be less than complimentary, but I have come to learn that in Utah, our families, friends and neighbors all represent something special.

Our state was founded by religious refugees hoping for a better life. They endured horrific conditions and many lost their lives for what they believe. They came here to build up a land by the sweat of their brow and make a new life. They turned this desert into a thriving community where neighbors knew and cared for their neighbors. Families supported each other. And prosperity came at the tip of the plow and the end of a hammer. But this story is not a unique story.

Since the Saints arrived in the Salt Lake Valley in 1847, millions across the globe have experienced the struggle of packing up their family on a moment’s notice and venturing out to make a new life. My parents did it. My grandparents did it. And I stand as a witness of their sacrifice. Because of the sacrifice of all those who laid the foundations for us, we are able to live in a country that strives to take care of its poor, feed its hungry and care for its sick.

Since March, my team and I have knocked on more than 70,000 doors in the 2nd Congressional District and talked with people from all walks of life. For most of them, it is the first time they have ever spoken to a candidate for any political office. And when we talk, we don’t talk about the many failings of Congress and the Trump administration, we talk about what it will take to do better. We talk about our families. We talk about our values. I haven’t met a single person who is unwilling to have a conversation with me.

The wonderful people who have spoken with me on their front porches have strengthened my faith in our community. A man in Bountiful in his 80s had only one question for me: Where did I stand on giving Dreamers citizenship? I support it and so does he. He wouldn’t even consider voting for me if I didn’t. A woman in Davis County told me how her cancer diagnosis has bankrupted her family. Medicaid could have helped, but Utah didn’t take the critical funding to expand the program. A very Republican man in Washington County told me he had finally had it with the overspending and fiscal irresponsibility of his party; he was willing to take a chance on me.

These people have visions of a future where our elected officials demonstrate compassion and kindness and work together to provide health care to everyone. While I got into this race because of my own story, the stories of the mothers, brothers, sisters and children I have met give me hope for our country. Hearing their stories has given me strength and helped me to realize that there is so much more that unites us than divides us. Although we may spend our Sabbaths in different congregations, the faith that unites us is our faith in each other.

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It is a faith that we can work together to solve the problems we all face. It is a faith that we will not buy into the rhetoric of hatred, fear and division, but that we will move forward by putting the politics of compassion first. It is a faith that has so many people telling me that they have voted with one party their whole lives, but that party no longer represents their values. It is a faith that we can do better and must do better for our children and for us.

As your representative, I will work hard to achieve our shared vision of the future. I will continue listening to you, I will keep feeling your pain and celebrating your joys. Don’t let fear cast your vote — put fear aside and vote for our shared faith in each other and for the candidate you think can and will do better.

Correction: A previous version misstated Utah failed to expand Medicare. The correct program is Medicaid.