Post by Cesar Hernandez
Ed Narain is a bright political thought leader and change agent in the region helping to shape the political landscape. He currently serves as a member of the Florida House of Representatives representing the 61st district. The district includes parts of West and East Tampa, Progress Village, Sulpher Springs and the University Area. Narain attended the University of South Florida where he was elected the Student Body President and later pursued his B.A in psychology and MBA at St Leo University. In 2013 he received his J.D from Stetson University College of Law and works as a Regional Director at AT&T and serves as a member of the Children’s Board of Hillsborough County.Rep. Narain served on various boards in the county including the Headstart Policy Council and the Community Action Board. As a freshman representative, Rep. Narain was elected to lead the Florida Legislative Black Caucus and has received a Florida Chamber Distinguished Advocate Award and a Florida Association of Counties Champions Award for the 2015 session. Representative Ed Narain is a major contributing voice in shaping this regions political environment.
HC Young Dems : Prior to your campaign for State Representative you ran successfully for Student Body President at USF, was there any lessons learned at this level that perhaps carried over to your more recent campaign?
Rep, Ed Narain : Yes, it always comes back to helping people connect in a positive way with government. Back then, I didn’t run for the title of being Student Body President but rather we ran to help provide a greater voice for the student body with the administration. Last year, our campaign was about providing a greater voice for the Tampa community in the Legislature. It should always be about putting the needs of People before Politics.
HC Young Dems :Representative Narain, run us through the step by step process you took in making the decision to run for the Florida House? What ultimately was the deciding factor for you?
Rep, Ed Narain: For years, a lot of my friends, co-workers and family members told me I should consider running for office. I was always a little uncomfortable with that because I didn’t and still don’t see what they see. But after seriously thinking about it, I first talked with my wife and asked her thoughts about me running. As with everything I’ve wanted to do, she told me she would be supportive and has really been my biggest champion. We prayed about it and asked God for clarity. Finally, after talking with my parents, friends, family, employer and pastor – I made the decision to enter the race. The deciding factor was whether I would be able to take care of my family while serving on a different, more demanding level than before.
HC Young Dems: how was your first legislative session? Was it what you imagined before you were an elected official? What was the biggest learning curve and adjustment you had to make?
Rep, Ed Narain: My first session was very good. As with anything, there was an adjustment period but it didn’t take long to figure out how things work. I went in with very few expectations (in order to prevent being disappointed) and have been pleased with how most things have turned out. Contrary to what people may read, most legislators get along fine and although we may differ on policy; are all trying to do what we believe is the right thing.
The biggest adjustment has been being away from family for so long. Public service is really hard on your spouse and children and in my case, things haven’t been any different.
HC Young Dems: What advice would you offer to our readers that aspire to run for office? What do you feel is the best way to prepare to put yourself in a position to make that decision?
Rep, Ed Narain: Public service is a sacrifice but it is very rewarding. I would advise anyone who is thinking about running for office to ensure they are doing it for the right reasons. Sometimes people see the superficial aspect of being an elected official (i.e. giving speeches and attending events) and aspire to that. What they don’t see is the tremendous amount of work and personal sacrifice that goes into actually being successful at the job. This year, I missed the family vacation because of the special session. That was a tough thing for my family, but I had little choice. The reality is elected officials make these type of sacrifices all the time and few people know, understand or even care.
The best way to prepare for that decision is to develop yourself by learning how to be a servant. Too many people want to run for office without having truly served others. Volunteering and doing it from a position of selflessness helps you gain perspective and insight into the true needs of people and how you can best serve them. Eventually, people will seek you out and encourage you to run for something. It should always be about helping others.
HC Young Dems: Not only do you have your life in public service and your professional life, but you are a father and husband, how do you find that balance between those roles?
Rep, Ed Narain: I do my best to keep the needs of my family first. Without family, you don’t have anything so keeping them happy is a priority. I do my best to include them in everything I can. I also try to make every important family function. It’s tough. I’m only an elected official for a time but I am a husband and father for life.
HC Young Dems: In your career in politics so far what has been the greatest lesson learned for you? And what else would you like to leave our readers with?
Rep, Ed Narain: The greatest lesson is that if you are genuine in your beliefs and are doing things for the right reasons, people know it and can see it. Being true to yourself and your values is important regardless of any pressures you may face. Being unpopular for making tough decisions isn’t always rewarded early on but if you are doing the right things, it will always pay off.
HC Young Dems: Thank you so much for your time it is greatly appreciated.
You can follow Ed Narain on Twitter @ednarain
Please continue to follow us on our #LeadHillsborough Conversation Series our next meeting will be August 18th at 6:30 pm at CoWork Ybor.