Meet Darshana Patel, running for California State Assembly, District 76
California’s 76th Assembly District includes the cities of Escondido, San Diego, and San Marcos.
“The American Dream… it’s part of my core. My family came here from India to realize that American dream, and they sacrificed a lot to do that. So I know the value of it. I know what people ache for, what their heart yearns for. And I think what it would look like is people being able to have barriers removed so they can pursue their dreams.” -Darshana Patel
Darshana is a woman deeply ingrained in her community of Rancho Peñasquitos. She is the first person of color to be elected to the Poway Unified School District board in both 2016 and in 2020. She holds a PhD in biophysics. Along with that, she has been a town council member and a planning board member. To this day she is heavily involved in the school communities of her children and holds a position as the president of the San Diego County School Boards Association.
In a candid interview, she helped us get to know her on a personal level, emphasizing her rich background, her role as a parent, and her intrinsic connection to the issues affecting her community.
Hailing from a challenging upbringing, Darshana’s desire to root herself in a stable community shaped her commitment to public service. Her past election victories, notably becoming the first person of color elected to her school board, underscore her dedicated community service and passion for representing marginalized groups.
Her decision to run for the California State Assembly stems from a deep-rooted drive to represent her community. We learned that in Darshana’s community, there has never been a woman Democrat or a person of color elected into the State Assembly. She aims to represent these marginalized groups along with the needs of all community members. Most notably, she strives to utilize her academic background and experience in public education to represent the shared values of her community and to ensure that all residents have access to quality education and resources.
If elected, Darshana is ready to address prevalent issues such as affordable housing, education, environmental concerns, healthcare accessibility, and workforce shortages. In her own community she has seen the rise of costs both in living expenses and educational expenses, specifically in higher education. She told us that her local hospital recently shut down its maternity ward due to budget concerns. Along with that, many essential workers can no longer afford to live in the communities that they serve. These are all issues that drive Darshana’s motivation to make a difference for her neighbors.
Darshana’s academic journey in biochemistry and her subsequent transition from a research scientist to a public servant highlight her diverse skill set. She attended Occidental College in Los Angeles and then did her PhD in biophysics at UC Irvine! Her commitment to education is evident, not just in her academic pursuits but in her ongoing advisory role in science-related organizations, promoting scientific literacy among underserved communities.
While discussing her personal life, Darshana reveals her passion for gardening, finding solace in nurturing her garden. Her candidness about learning gymnastics and dance through her children provides a glimpse into her multifaceted persona. She is extremely passionate about education and wishes to see her children, along with all children in her district flourish. Darshana adores her community, highlighting its diverse offerings like the Wild Animal Park, Lake Hodges Dam, Cal State San Marcos, and Palomar Community College.
Darshana is not a politician, but rather a genuine individual who has faced personal challenges and persevered, building a profound empathy for her community. She carries this empathy along with the desire to create a better future in every step she takes, working to ensure a world where dreams can and will be achieved.