Q&A With Justin Fareed, 24th Congressional District Candidate

Hector Sanchez/The Bottom Line

Shomik Mukherjee
Executive Managing Editor

Justin Fareed, Republican candidate for California’s 24th congressional district seat, spoke about student debt and job growth during a brief round of interviews at the University of California, Santa Barbara on Tuesday afternoon.

Either Fareed or Democratic candidate Salud Carbajal will replace incumbent Rep. Lois Capps for the seat in Congress after the Nov. 8 election. Fareed, 28, was the youngest Congress-hopeful in the June primary, from which he and Carbajal emerged out of nine candidates as the final two in the race. The 24th District is comprised of the counties of Santa Barbara and San Luis Obispo, as well as western Ventura County.

After excelling as a football star for Santa Barbara High School, Fareed received a walk-on spot as a running back for the University of California, Los Angeles Bruins football team. Following his college football stint, he worked as a legislative aide to a Congressman and now serves as the vice president of his family-owned business, Pro Band Sports Industries, Inc.

Fareed touched on topics from engaging with UCSB students to the Santa Barbara job market. Carbajal will do his own round of interviews at the university on Wednesday.

What steps have you taken to engage UCSB students prior to the election?

I’ve been working during the primary and over the course of the summer. I’ve been out in Isla Vista and I’m just having casual conversations with students here, talking about what they’re concerned about, listening to their concerns, and talking about why I’m running for Congress and what we could do with bottom-up leadership to effectively make a difference in the legislative body in congress.

What are your thoughts on student Republican or Libertarian movements on largely left-wing influenced campuses like UCSB?

I think things should be issue-driven. I know we started an organization here called Students For Justin which is more focused on issues. My goal is to get away from partisan politics and get back to actual solutions that improve the lives of all of us, not just here and now, but for the future. That’s what got me motivated to run in the first place.

You’ve spoken extensively about the student loan crisis. What are your thoughts on the state of university tuition?

You’re seeing a rise in tuition. You’re seeing the second-largest form of household debt today is student-loan debt. That’s a significant issue we need to deal with and in a big way. That in conjunction with the fact that our federal government’s accruing a very significant national debt.

You’re seeing that a lot of the financial responsibility is being strapped on the future of this country. That needs to deal with systemically and foundationally through reform. We need to be able to ensure that students can have the ability to refinance their loans when they graduate just like they can do with their mortgage.

We need to make sure more than anything that there are jobs when you get out of school. You’re seeing a strangling job growth and market for students when they get out of school. You’re seeing policies making it difficult for startup entrepreneurs to fulfill their vision of starting a business. It’s difficult for businesses and small businesses to stay in communities all across California and the United States. We need to turn this model around and provide more opportunities so students have the ability to pay off the loan debt that they might be incurring.

You’re a Santa Barbara native; what, if anything, about the county has informed your political career?

Well, it’s in my backbone. I think it’s necessary that we move towards a decarbonized future. I am my own man, where I don’t necessarily fit rank and file within the Republican party. I believe that focusing on the innovation and ingenuity that could move us in that direction is one that is incredibly prevalent here. I’ve seen that over the course of the last several decades.

I grew up building a business with my family and I’m vice president of that business today. You’ve seen the largest rise in income inequality in this county between one side and the other, making it the sixth worst out of 3,143 counties across this nation — the sixth worst.

It’s made it difficult for small businesses to thrive in this environment, for graduating seniors to take their ideas or passions and build a business here locally. We need to turn that model around and get people back on their feet.