Justin Fareed was born and raised on the California Central Coast. After attending Santa Barbara High School he continued his education and achieved his childhood dream of playing Division One football at UCLA. Shortly after graduating in 2011 with a B.A. in Political Science, Justin joined the UCLA Football coaching staff and worked under Rick Neuheisel and Jim Mora.
Following his time at UCLA, he served as a Legislative Aide for Congressman Ed Whitfield, Chairman of the Energy & Power Subcommittee for the House Energy and Commerce Committee. Working closely with the Congressman, Justin was involved in drafting several bills, building consensus among members, and working to move policy forward. In February 2013, Justin led an international congressional staff delegation to Turkey to learn first-hand about the cultural, political and economic interests in the region.
Today, Justin is Vice President of his family’s business, Pro Band Sports Industries, which specializes in the design and manufacture of sports medical devices. Additionally, Justin maintains a devotion to overseeing his family’s third generation-owned cattle ranching operation in Kern County.
Justin is running for Congress as the Republican nominee for California’s 24th Congressional District seat. He secured his slot on the ballot after defeating seven other candidates and receiving the most votes of any Republican in the primary election last June. Should Justin win his election on November 8, he would become one of the youngest Congressmen in United States history. “Justin will bring much needed diversity to Congress. His entrepreneurial business experience will enable him to forge practical solutions to our challenges. In addition, the personal drive, determination, and mental discipline that enabled him to become a collegiate athlete will be equally helpful in Washington. At 28-years-old, Justin [will] easily connect with younger constituents, which is exactly what we need in Congress,” said Congresswoman Elise Stefanik (R-NY), who has endorsed Justin and is herself the youngest woman ever elected to Congress.
Bold Media spoke with Justin last month during a rare break in his campaign schedule.
As a young person, what is motivating you to run for Congress? Why are you willing to sacrifice your job running a highly successful business to endure a grueling campaign schedule and inevitable character attacks faced by Congressional candidates?
My motivation is to get Congress functioning again: I’ve seen the direction that our country is heading and I want to help get Congress working again. There’s a lack of responsibility that far too many members of Congress are taking and I have a deep sense of urgency for our need to restore the governing components of Congress.
A major problem with Congress right now is that it only tends to act in a reactionary way. It’s often only after a catastrophic incident that a solution is sought. Instead, government should have the foresight to proactively engineer solutions just like we do as entrepreneurs in the business world. We need to improve things for everyone. This will take proactive, thoughtful thinking from citizens of all ages, races, gender and socioeconomic means. We need to develop and implement solutions that have a measurable impact.
On a different level, I would like to show others that it’s possible to beat the political machine. The Democrats and their Super PACs have spent more than $1 million dollars – an unbelievable amount for a House seat – to support my opponent, a career politician who, in a candid moment, referred to a key area of my district as the “armpit.” Why are they doing this? The Democrats are freaking out because a 28-year-old is challenging their political machine. Should this vision succeed – an upstart, young businessperson not dependent on government for a paycheck defeating a career politician – then it will hopefully encourage others from across the spectrum to get involved.
What did you learn in your prior campaign that you’ve applied to this race?
I’m an entrepreneur and an athlete at heart. I built a small business from scratch with my family; I’ve applied the same mindset in running for Congress. I’ve competed against myself to get better to be better today than I was yesterday. The first time I ran I didn’t have a single political contact in the entire state of California. I’d never been a candidate and needed to build my campaign from the bottom up. I was outspent 9-to-1 but still came within half of 1 percent of winning. From this experience, I learned what it takes to build a successful campaign. It takes a lot of different things. Most important is that people from all backgrounds must buy into the mission. So this time my mindset has been to just improve upon the model developed during the first race.
What has been your strategy to listen to voters’ concerns?
I approach each issue, individual and group in an open and honest fashion. This allows people to feel more comfortable to candidly discuss their concerns. Ultimately, it’s all on my shoulders to listen. It’s crucial to genuinely respect people from all backgrounds. Hillary Clinton, who has said that politicians need ‘both a public and a private’ position is absolutely wrong: there can be zero difference between your public and private opinions. I think that’s why so many people are disappointed that my opponent referred to Lompoc as the ‘armpit’ of Santa Barbara County in a private conversation. The more people feel involved, the more voters know I truly care, the more continuous momentum we have. And I’m not just talking about momentum through the election – my goal is to generate a wave of new policy makers with the mindset, vision and fortitude to tackle the big challenges that we face. And the more that my constituents help me to be informed with their concerns, the better we will all be.
Who do you most admire in politics and why?
I most admire people on both sides of the aisle who have throughout history gone against the grain to do what’s right. That’s really the critical difference between a “servant leader” who always strives to do what’s right for the voters versus a “career politician” who is thinking about what’s in his or her best interest to position him or herself for the next election and keep their job. I have a very high amount of reverence for anyone who has entered the political arena for the right reasons and sees it through. Frankly, this election in many ways is representative of a choice between a “servant leader” and a “career politician.”
What advice do you have for Millennials looking to enter politics or public service?
You have to be driven by a cause and a mission. And have genuine and authentic passion. It takes drive, grit and determination to campaign. Be sure of who you are and why you are running. What is it that you are going to do? The political climate today will do whatever it can to knock you off that path and create distractions. I’m of the mindset that, if you remain very focused, you can be successful. Like so many things in life, mindset and positive attitude will get you a long way.
We hear so much in the media about how dissatisfied voters are with Washington DC. What makes you optimistic?
I’m highly optimistic because, despite what naysayers will try to convince you, there are policies that can create a better way forward. How could you not be optimistic? For example, look at Elise Stefanik (NY-21) and others who are introducing bills to improve transparency by leveraging technology. We just need more people like her who are willing to serve.
Our country was founded by servant leaders who gave us the best political document in human history: the U.S. Constitution. At its core, the Constitution lays the groundwork so that anyone can have the opportunity – through hard work and effort – to go and make a difference for our country. It’s important to remember that the vision of our Founding Fathers was for a Congress with 435 servant leaders, not 435 political hacks. As long as voters begin to send more servant leaders to Washington, there’s no limit to what we can achieve.
What do you hope to accomplish in your first term? What are your key priorities?
My top priority for the Central Coast is to bring 21st century water solutions to my district. I want the government to streamline the process and invest directly in infrastructure. We’re going into our sixth year of a drought. Let’s start unleashing modern technology such as desalination and increasing storage capacity to solve this important regional issue.
Nationally, my top priority is to reform the budget structure. We’re basically going from one stopgap measure to the next. Congress used to have the purse strings for everything, so it was much easier to control spending. Today, Congress only controls “discretionary” spending, which is only 29 percent of the budget. They are in a seemingly endless cycle of authorizing a continuing resolution to increase baseline spending, then reauthorizing and reauthorizing. We need better oversight and management. Let’s see how our dollars are being spent. There’s good and bad spending: let’s make investing in modern technology one of our national priorities and get rid of spending on old technology and broken, obsolete programs. Let’s reduce wasteful spending. Let’s cut out fraud. These are all things that can be done via the budget process. In addition to improving society, these solutions will reduce the national deficit and long-term debt.
The Republican Party is sometimes portrayed as a party of old, white men. How can the party reach younger and diverse voters?
What we need are servant leaders bringing forward ideas and solutions. We need a lean, efficient, and effective federal institution. I come from multicultural heritage. I’m 28 years old and I’m getting involved because of problems we have today and because I can see over the horizon. If we take the “politics” out of it, people will listen. The more that Republicans focus on thoughtful solutions to problems, the more people will want to join our tent. On the Democratic side, the politicians all seem to beat to the same message. Let’s capitalize on our uniqueness and being the party for the people and of the people.