Irvine resident Ali Kowsari is the latest addition to the slate of candidates running to represent Orange County residents in the state Senate.

Running for the seat in the 37th district, Kowsari said: “We need to create a better community and state, for our children’s sake, and the future of our state and our country.”

“My students want to find jobs, want to advance, want to find opportunities just like I did when I got here,” said Kowsari, who teaches international business and marketing at Santa Ana College. “At the local level, people are struggling. And to me, nothing can be done unless we change locally. Local and state regulations run our lives, and until that changes, we can’t truly be happy.”

Born in the U.S. to Iranian parents and raised in Iran, Kowsari said he grew up under a repressive regime where he faced “daily harassment and witnessed the severe consequences of questioning authority.”

“I was 7 when the (Iranian Revolution) happened, and so I was in the thick of it,” he recalled. “We went through eight years of war, daily bombings, no electricity, no heat. All forms of what they called ‘Western things’ were banned. Western music, alcohol, socializing with the opposite sex. The consequences were getting beaten up, getting thrown into small cells without any due process. It was absolutely brutal.”

Kowsari, who immigrated back to the U.S. in 1995 at the age of 23, said this unique experience, along with the time he spent in Orange County as an immigrant, business owner, professor and father, pushed him to run for office. He said he’s noticed a common theme of discontent in the people he’s talked to in the U.S., especially in the past few years.

“I’ve interacted and worked with people from all walks of life, from very young to grown-up adults,” he said. “Nobody seems to be happy. And it really bothers me that we live in the most advanced country in the world and a state that, by all measures should be the richest state, yet people are not happy and businesses aren’t thriving.”

As a business owner, Kowsari said his priorities include supporting policies that reduce regulations, lower taxes and provide incentives to “help small businesses so they may thrive and grow.”

“I strongly believe in the power of small businesses as they are the backbone of our economy,” said Kowsari. “Small businesses create jobs and foster innovation.”

Public safety is another priority of his, Kowsari said.

“It’s important to provide law enforcement with adequate funding and support to do their jobs effectively,” he said. “We must prosecute offenders to protect our communities, otherwise law and order is just an idea.”

Kowsari, who is a Republican, said Sacramento needs a balance and diversity of ideas. In order to achieve that, he said, people need to be willing to communicate with one another.

“If you have a ‘D’ or an ‘R’ in front of your name, you don’t want to talk to each other. And that’s part of the problem,” he said. “My plan is to bring an approach of being open to talk to anybody if they have a good solution. My neighbors who own businesses don’t care if it’s a Republican or a Democrat who solves their problem. They care if their problem is solved.”

The 37th Senate district — now represented by Sen. Dave Min, D-Irvine, who earlier this year launched a bid for California’s 47th congressional district — encompasses a wide swath of Orange County, including Laguna Niguel, Costa Mesa, Irvine and Orange.

So far, Kowsari will be up against another Iranian candidate, Alex Mohajer, as well as former Assemblymember Steven Choi in the primary. Sen. Josh Newman, D-Fullerton, who was drawn into SD-37 during the redistricting process, is also vying for the seat.

Kowsari plans to formally launch his campaign on Thursday, June 29 in Villa Park.

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