Susheela Jayapal all set to join sister Pramila Jayapal in Congress – News21USA

Portland County Commissioner Susheela Jayapal launched her campaign for Congress Wednesday in hopes of joining her younger sister, Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.), in the fight for civil and human rights at the federal level.

Jayapal is running for the congressional seat of Rep. Earl Blumenauer, a fellow progressive from Oregon who announced Monday that he plans to retire at the end of his term next year.

Blumenauer has represented Oregon’s 3rd Congressional District, which covers eastern Portland and more rural areas in central Oregon, in the House since 1996. The potentially competitive Democratic primary for the 2024 election is expected to take place on May 21, 2024.

In her first interview as a congressional candidate, Susheela Jayapal spoke to HuffPost about her campaign and how her close relationship with her sister shaped who she is today. Pramila Jayapal, who serves as chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, also participated in the interview.

“I can’t imagine myself on this path without Pramila and I can’t wait to work with her, and we will irritate each other along the way,” Susheela Jayapal said as both sisters laughed.

Susheela Jayapal moved to the United States from India when she was 16 to attend college, and graduated at age 20 to work as a financial analyst for Goldman Sachs before earning her law degree. After working in the legal field for several years, including as general counsel for Adidas America, Jayapal transitioned into nonprofit work in the Portland area. She has lived in Portland for almost three decades.

A photograph of Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.) as a child with her mother and sister, Susheela Jayapal, displayed in the Congressional Progressive Caucus chair's home in Seattle.  Susheela Jayapal announced that she will run for Congress in 2024.
A photograph of Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.) as a child with her mother and sister, Susheela Jayapal, displayed in the Congressional Progressive Caucus chair’s home in Seattle. Susheela Jayapal announced that she will run for Congress in 2024.

In May 2018, Jayapal was elected to Portland’s nonpartisan Multnomah County Board of Commissioners, earning more than 60% of the vote to serve the city’s north and northeast areas. He became the first American Indian to hold elected office at the county level in Oregon.

“We are very good friends,” Pramila Jayapal said. “She has been a great inspiration to me. I mean, she was the first of us to come to this country and make it on her own at the age of 16. And she kind of helped me see that I could do this too.”

“Of course, I support her because she is my sister and I adore her, but I also support her because she will do amazing things for the people of the district once she is elected,” he added.

Susheela Jayapal had not seriously considered running for office before 2017, but changed her mind partly in response to the election of former President Donald Trump and partly because of her desire to address housing affordability and homelessness in the Portland area. If he is elected, the commissioner hopes to also focus on climate change, abortion rights and health care.

Susheela Jayapal is three years older than her sister, Pramila Jayapal, who was elected in 2016 to represent the Seattle area in the House. The Jayapals would be the second pair of sisters to serve together in Congress if Susheela is elected.

Pramila Jayapal initially worked as a political organizer and founded the Seattle-based immigration rights group OneAmerica. She was then elected to the Washington Senate in 2014 before becoming a member of the United States Congress. Pramila Jayapal encouraged Susheela to run for office in 2018, acting as a supportive sister and experienced legislator.

“Susheela is her own person,” her sister said. “She is really grounded. She also has her own set of experiences of hers. She is incredibly skilled in a large number of areas; Some of them are the same, some of them are different.”

“She will carve her own path, I have no doubt about that. And people will come to know her for who she is, for Susheela Jayapal,” the lawmaker said.

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