When David Abroms turned 30, he took time to think about what his maternal grandfather, Simon Nagrodzki, was doing at the same age.
He was living in a displaced persons camp in Germany, the sole Holocaust survivor of a family of 11, with the wife he met in the camp, Helen, and an infant daughter.
A year later, the Nagrodzkis reached Birmingham, via New York and New Orleans, and made a new life on a tailor’s earnings. They were poor, but they sent all their children to college and instilled family and Jewish values.
“We’re his legacy. We’re standing on his shoulders and my grandmother’s,” Abroms, 33, a Republican candidate for the 6th District congressional seat, said in an interview in February. “When I look at my blessings, it was my family and my family’s dedication to a strong family and to education.”
Abroms grew up in Birmingham, attended N.E. Miles Jewish Day School, and got degrees from the University of Miami and the University of Alabama at Birmingham. He first moved to Atlanta in 2008 to work as an accountant. After going back and forth between here and Birmingham, he settled here in 2011 to launch Freedom Fueling Solutions, which converts vehicles from gasoline to compressed natural gas.
It was the kind of business in which he could work with hands, explore technology and energy policy (he acknowledges a habit of reading energy legislation) and make good money (after hiring his first employee, he lived for several months with a cousin and subsisted on ketchup-and-cheese sandwiches to get the most caloric bang for his buck, but now can invest $250,000 of his own money into his campaign).
But it was also a chance to do good by cutting vehicle emissions and reducing dependence on foreign oil.
That desire to do tikkun olam stems from his grandparents, who went through so much so he could live in freedom, Abroms said, and connects to his decision to close the business — something he was working toward anyway — and run for office.
“I have an opportunity that my grandparents didn’t. My grandparents did not have a voice. They didn’t have anyone to stand up for them, and they didn’t have anyone to protect them, and they lost their entire families,” Abroms said. “I have a voice. I have a chance to stand up and have my voice heard and speak for people that can’t speak for themselves.”
The Holocaust also feeds into Abroms’ free-market principles. “The free market is the best tool that we have as Jews to protect ourselves because a free economy lends itself to a free politic, and also the free market is not anti-Semitic. The free market is not racist.”
Abroms presents himself as part of a new generation of conservative leadership and as someone who won’t go “squishy” on his principles. But that doesn’t mean he won’t compromise.
He said compromise is a core American value; that’s how we got the Constitution. It’s important for people of good will on both sides of an issue to focus on solving important problems, such as health care and the unsustainable national debt, rather than play political games.
He said it was a mistake for the Democrats to pass Obamacare without Republican help, and it would be a mistake for Republicans to move ahead with the necessary repeal of the law without getting Democrats involved in crafting the replacement, which should include coverage for existing conditions and for children up to age 26 as well as interstate insurance sales.
Having seen the Environmental Protection Agency in action with his business, Abroms is a believer in less regulation. He is optimistic that helping people stranded by economic changes will make it easier to solve other problems, such as illegal immigration, by creating opportunities.
He likes that Democrats are talking more about the Constitution, freedom and the separation of powers. “I think there’s a revival of liberty coming in the country,” Abroms said, “and I’m excited to be a part of it.”
He’s trying to offer the 6th District a hopeful message, the kind that attracted him to Sen. Marco Rubio’s presidential campaign last year.
“I do think America has a bright future and bright days ahead of us if — if — we can take care of some of these serious problems before us.”
A former AIPAC intern who took a Birthright Israel trip sponsored by the group, Abroms said he supports a two-state solution for Israel and the Palestinians involving land swaps, a demilitarized Palestinian state, security assurances in the Jordan Valley and Palestinian acceptance of Israel as a Jewish state. It’s up to the Palestinians to accept the deal.
While he’s not a member of a synagogue, he does join his cousins Candy and Steve Berman at Temple Sinai.
Otherwise, aside from his campaign and his business, Abroms has his Sandy Springs condo, his rescue dog, Sam, his love of 1990s-era country music, and his Ford F-150 pickup truck, which is “just barely broken in” at the 170,000-mile mark.
Even if he doesn’t beat the odds of an 18-person ballot to win the election, Abroms said he plans to stay involved in solving the issues facing the United States. “I’m doing this because I love my country. I’m doing this because I want to stand up and be heard. Not only do I want I vote, but I want a voice.”