Editor’s note: This is part of a series that profiles candidates running for local offices.
K. Siva Prasad is used to being at a disadvantage.
When he moved from India, he said, employers would only hire him for entry-level positions in spite of his years of engineering experience.
Now, Prasad, 76, said he hopes to overcome the odds by running as a non-party affiliated candidate for the District 5 seat in the Alachua County Commission.
He had to submit piles of paperwork to get his international degrees accepted, but Prasad eventually became a senior engineer.
He said because he isn't backed by interest groups, he'll be able to focus his attention on his constituents, mainly the 80 percent of county residents he said make $100,000 or less.
“Republicans and Democrats have both rendered the government immobile and ineffective,” Prasad said. “They have taken advantage of people’s misery.”
He said he hopes to help stabilize household economics through community programs.
In particular, Prasad wants to provide resources for the 24 percent of Alachua County residents he said live at or below the $50,000 poverty line.
He would make the first expenditures the commission makes go to “help the needy and sick” — an idea that encompasses a broad umbrella of programs like affordable housing options and food pantries. He said he would also like to empower more lower-income residents by increasing access to Santa Fe College.
“They take care of the local people and the students who don’t have the money to attend a big university,” Prasad said.
To pay for the increased resources, Prasad said he would first ask for donations or put a voluntary tax on the ballot. If more money was needed to fund the programs for the needy, he would consider raising property taxes, sales taxes and corporate taxes.
However, he is reluctant to take funding for his campaign. Though people have donated, Prasad chose to spend $15,000 of his own money for his campaign. He said he wouldn’t want anyone’s contributions to cloud his judgment when it comes to making decisions for the county.
“I don’t want to be indebted to anyone,” he said.
He promised to work for two years at one-half the commission’s pay, which is $70,444, according to the county. Prasad also pledged to resign his position if 30 percent of Alachua County residents sign a petition asking him to leave.
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K. Siva Prasad is a 76-year-old retired engineer. He said he hopes to break the political gridlock in the County Commission by running as a non-party affiliated candidate.