As our school board member, Raaheela has fought to advance the academic achievement of our students. She is committed to pushing forth these efforts on the state level as well, such as dismantling the school-to-prison pipeline, adequately building and renovating schools through public funds, promoting culturally responsive curriculum, furthering financial literacy, supporting free early childhood education opportunities, and advocating for resources and support for our marginalized students and communities.
Raaheela also believes in fully funding and supporting our Historically Black Colleges & Universities (HBCUs), particularly District 23’s very own Bowie State University.
Raaheela has worked professionally in the democracy reform and civic engagement space for several years. Additionally, as a school board member, she has fought for governmental transparency and accountability in its structure, function, and operation. As such, she is supportive of permanent universal vote-by-mail to provide all residents the greatest possible access to the ballot box; public financing for elected offices to reduce the influence of money in politics; decreasing the barrier of entry for local citizens to run for office; special elections to fill vacancies of elected positions instead of political appointments; and live streaming and recording of all public proceedings of the legislature in Annapolis, including committee meetings and floor votes.
Although Maryland has made significant strides in criminal justice reform over the last few years, Raaheela believes there is much more to be done to repair the gaps created in and by our broken justice system. She believes in heavily investing in mental health resources and other social needs for the community. She believes in better accountability and licensing from forensic scientists and labs, including allowing wrongfully convicted people to be able to get back into court based on discredited forensic evidence. Raaheela wants to see sound labor practices in prisons, no racial discrimination in arrests and sentencing, a full ban on no-knock warrants, removal of qualified immunity, and community oversight of the justice system.
Raaheela grew up as the daughter of immigrants from Pakistan and India, in a multi-generational Bowie home. Her house was home to extended relatives and friends who found their grounding coming to the U.S. as refugees, asylees and immigrants from Asia. She believes that every immigrant deserves a path to citizenship, regardless of documentation status, and that immigrants should be made eligible for social support and services as residents of our community, including but not limited to pandemic relief, employment, education and tenant protections.
As a person with several health issues, Raaheela found herself in and out of hospitals as a child, amassing large bills for her family to pay. Raaheela believes everyone has a right to live a healthy life, without going into debt to do so. That’s why she supports a universal, single-payer healthcare system with minimal to no out-of-pocket expenses for prescription medication and health devices. She supports continued COVID-19 prevention and relief efforts in the form of free testing, vaccines and protective equipment to the community, and support of healthcare professionals as they fight on the frontlines.
We only have one world, and Raaheela will fight to protect it. As a National Leadership Council member for Elected Officials to Protect America (EOPA), a network of current and former elected officials committed to solving the climate crisis, ensuring environmental justice, and protecting our land and water, Raaheela is committed to action in the state of Maryland. By 2035, she believes we should have 100% clean energy, zero emissions transportation, and zero food and landfill waste. More immediately, she advocates for no new gas pipelines to be built in the state. Raaheela also does not support plans to advance the SCMAGLEV train project through the district.
Raaheela organized to unionize her previous workplace, after recognizing the difficult work environment for some of her colleagues, and discovering that she was largely underpaid as compared to her co-workers. As the granddaughter of a unionized hotel housekeeper and daughter of a unionized healthcare professional, she understands first-hand how vitally important it is that every member of our community has a healthy and sustainable work environment where they are appreciated and valued, monetarily and otherwise. She believes everyone deserves a true living wage, paid family and medical leave, and a fair workweek.
As a double degree holder in finance and economics, and having worked as a federal financial consultant for the federal government, Raaheela understands how our financial systems are built, bought and designed by and for the rich. Raaheela strongly opposes predatory financial practices that inhibit our most marginalized communities from building wealth and economic prosperity, like exorbitant credit card and loan interest rates and late fees. She supports closing tax loopholes for corporations, and having them pay their fair share of wealth to build and grow our communities.
Raaheela is no stranger to the high costs of living in District 23. Despite growing up her entire life in the district, she currently resides in one of its very few affordable neighborhoods. She believes no member of our community should be living paycheck-to-paycheck to live comfortably in a neighborhood of their choice and have a good quality of life. She is supportive of homeowner and renter tax credits, and tenants rights legislation to ensure everyone is house-secure.