Escondido, CA

Shamus Sayed wants to bring a pro-business perspective to Congress

Shamus Sayed

When you are running against a high-profile Congressman whose family has held the seat for half a century, but who is being pummeled on all sides by accusations of being ethically “challenged,” sometimes what you don’t say is as important as what you do.
Obviously GOP candidate Shamus Sayed wouldn’t be running against 50th District Rep. Duncan Hunter if he thought the congressman was doing a great job; but at the same time he is generally sticking to the time-honored Republican “Eleventh Commandant” of not speaking ill of a fellow Republican. Instead, he speaks well of himself. And he has a lot to work with.
“Shamus” is a shortened version of a much longer Indian first name. But in detective fiction it’s the nickname for a detective “gumshoe” who spends a lot of time on foot. So it is a good one for a candidate who is walking his district a lot to get votes.
The son of Indian parents who came to this country and did very well for themselves, he has also done very well for himself. He and his wife of 11 years, Zehra, have two boys, one is 4 and the other 7. He has lived in San Diego for 40 years. “I remember going to Fat Ivor’s before it burned down,” he recalls. “I grew up in Poway and I’ve generally stayed in the same area.”
A UCSD undergraduate in general and molecular biology, he was in that industry for a while and then in the late 2000s left the corporate world. He acquired Interpreters Unlimited, a language service provider to school districts, municipalities and the health care industry.
“We’re very blessed,” says Sayed. “The company has been around for fifty years. We acquired it 11 years ago and have grown it tremendously. It is now one of San Diego’s largest privately held companies.” He has forty employees but thousands of linguists as contractors. “I have the vantage point of someone who runs an organization that pays hundreds of people on a regular basis,” he says.
He entered politics because: “I felt something had to be done. I identify myself as a Republican, fiscal conservative, social moderate. I felt the current leadership definitely has some great ideas and is shaking things up but dividing people in ways we haven’t seen before.”
He feels his business acumen is a big plus. “Small business advocacy is a huge platform of mine because it affects people in ways most don’t realize,” he says. “Eighty percent of San Diego businesses are small business, and they employ three quarters of its work force. The 50th district is a great example of these small businesses. We only see the little guys on TV and the big guys on TV but don’t see the guys in the middle. Yet we employ the large part of the county.”
He adds, “There’s a discipline that goes into running a small business and that discipline can be and should be carried over into the House of Representatives. Understanding the pains our brothers and sisters in the community go through. More often than I’d like to, I have heard from people who have to decide whether to pay their health care or pay the rent that month.”
He finds the division between the GOP and Democrats and their inability to meet their objectives upsetting. “You have one job, keep the country open, keep it functional, keep the government open,” he says. “By that I mean keeping it open for business.”
Eventually, of course, the discussion comes round his opponent for the Republican nomination, Duncan Hunter. “Mr. Hunter comes from a legacy family, who I have tremendous respect for, not only for their service in the government but also in the military. The job by definition is to represent—and it is very clear that the job he was elected for, to represent, he is not doing. He has made various statements that he is doing things in a different direction than for the 50th district and that is not the job. The job is to represent.”
Sayed points out that Hunter says he voted “for the tax law because it was best for the country and not for California. The flaw is the statement. That statement very clearly identifies that he is not in touch with his constituents. We have over 400 people elected to the House to represent their districts and by their collective, to represent the view of the country.”
He adds, “I don’t want to avoid the elephant in the room. He has some legal challenges. And those challenges question our trust in him. And where his motives lie.”
He disagrees with Hunter’s statement on North Korea. “He was talking about a preemptive strike. But our district would be in the line of fire should there be any retaliation.”
Recalling the recent three-day shut down of the government, Sayed has pledged to donate the amount of half of Hunter’s salary as a congressmen for those three days to Wounded Warriors.
One of Sayed’s most important issues is regulations. “As a small business owner in California it concerns me that in this state alone there are 101 regulations that make it challenging to grow and thrive,” he says. “You have to navigate them carefully. For example, the Affordable Care Act. It was great in concept, no question. It was the first stab at nationalized health care. The not so positive about it is the mandates it put on employers and what we could or couldn’t do for our employees. Just because everyone now has to be part of the exchange made it difficult for us as an employer.” It made it difficult because it tried to make one size fit all, he says.
“Your heart is the right place to do what is right for your employees. It made it very challenging to take care of your employees.”
Federal regulation governing independent contractors make it hard for employers. “There is
a lot of pressure to classify contractors as employees,” he says. “Most don’t want to be and most employers don’t want them to be. Yet there is a loose interpretation of that law, which is costing independent contractors a lot on legal fees.”
Community is important to Sayed. “We never want to lose sight of what San Diego is–truly a community based city. The 50th is a community based district. Whether you are going to the Mother Goose Parade in El Cajon or the Western Days parade in Valley Center. This is one of the only places in the world I have been where you can stand in line with someone who is your neighbor two doors down and have them over for dinner. That needs to be represented in that manner in D.C. That sort of representation is lost with our current representative.”
To get to know his constituents, he is walking the district, meeting and greeting and visiting small businesses.
“A big part of my background is law enforcement. Not as an officer but I sit on four law enforcement boards, including an appointed position on an advisory council for the city of San Diego, and three other captains advisory boards.” He also used to be president of the FBI’s Citizens Academy Alumni Association.”
He believes in truly representing his constituents. “What would you as a voter like to see of your elected official?” he asks. “My views and my positions, as strong as they might be, are trumped by you as a constituent. I’m not doing it for myself. I’m doing it to represent you , the 50th. I’m not doing it for the paycheck.”
If his constituents want him to vote a certain way, he will. If they want him to vote a way he opposes, “It would be my job to educate them, but if they still want me to vote that way, I will. You put the facts in front of them and filter out facts from the emotions. I will vote to support a $30 billion wall if you want me to, but do you truly feel that is the best way to support the issue, especially if you consider that large part didn’t come through the wall?”
It’s no secret that Sayed is an immigrant, who has lived in the U.S. since he was 1 year old. “There’s two types of hyper patriots,” he says. “One is the individual who has been in the country for ten generations. Then there is the individual who fought tooth and nail to get to this country and took advantage of every opportunity this country has to offer to achieve the American dream and now will defend it to the very end—and that is my family. Both of my parents were born in India.”
He adds, “When you look at what they went to become citizens and achieve the dream that’s a different kind of hyper patriotism, you have to respect that and where it comes from. That is the mind set I was raised under. There is nothing you can’t go out and achieve and earn.”
He has heard stories of his father working as a janitor for a dollar an hour. “It’s hard
not to get emotional about the sacrifices your parents made. We don’t think much about going to a food court to get something to eat. But I remember going to the mall and sitting inside a Carl’s Junior and my mother taking out our lunches to eat.”
He grew up in a household where his father started a company in the 1980s and took it public. “We grew up in the household of seeing the things Dad had done and not understanding the risks he took. Only now can I appreciate the paycheck I just deposited so I can pay others first.
“That’s what I think this job entails. You are here to serve as, as a member of the House your job is to serve your constituency and ‘PAY’ your constituents first.”
To find out more about the “Shamus for Congress” campaign, visit his website:

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