Andre Pollard represents the American dream: An immigrant who came from English-speaking Guyana at age 10, he has a solid career as a tech professional working in the cloud in development operations, owns a home in Milton, and has a hairdresser wife and four children.
He tries to give back to the community through involvement in groups that support tech startups and app developers, and he teaches free Saturday classes to anyone who wants to learn computer coding with Ruby on Rails.
Now he’s running for Congress in the special election April 18 to replace Tom Price in the 6th District.
“I am District 6. I am everyone in District 6,” Pollard said. “I live in District 6. I’m a homeowner. I live in a community. I’ve got teenage daughters. I’ve got a 4-year-old in pre-K, Georgia pre-K; thank goodness, it’s free. I’ve got a 1½-year-old toddler running around the house.”
Like other nonpoliticians in the race, Pollard said life is good for him, but he felt compelled to address problems holding back others in America.
“It became more and more difficult watching TV and yelling at the TV. I just felt so helpless,” Pollard said about the start of the Trump administration. “The whole American brand just got devalued in less than a month.”
When Price resigned to become health and human services secretary, Pollard saw his opportunity.
But he chose to run outside the two-party system, something made easier by the one-primary system used in the special election, with all candidates on one ballot.
“A lot of our problems is the segregation of Republican and Democrat,” Pollard said, because elected officials listen to their parties instead of their constituents.
He instead launched his own party, the Tech Party, of which he is the only candidate. As the name indicates, the focus is on expanding the integration of technology into society, following the lead of companies such as Facebook and Google that took stands against President Donald Trump’s proposed restrictions on immigration.
Pollard wants to see more women, more minorities, more inner-city youths, more welfare recipients and more people from outdated industries find positions in the tech industry. For example, instead of trying to regain lost jobs in coal mining, Pollard would like to see people in coal communities trained to design, build, operate and repair robots to take on dangerous mining work.
“We’re definitely going to be turning it up a notch in technology with everything we do,” he said.
Pollard grew up on Long Island and worked his way through community college before finishing a mechanical engineering degree at SUNY-Buffalo.
As an example of an immigrant succeeding through hard work, he takes it personally when he sees the American dream under attack.
Pollard moved to Georgia from New York for a contract with AT&T as a Microsoft Exchange consultant. He then moved to Florida but came back when AT&T hired him as a technical account manager. He has lived in Milton for 14 years.
He sees many of the hot political issues through a tech-industry perspective.
He knows job opportunities exist if people can get the right training because the tech industry must issue so many H-1B visas to bring in foreign workers to fill open positions. Many such workers live just north of the 6th District in Cumming, he said.
He supports a path to citizenship for longtime illegal immigrants, but he also said it’s important for immigrants to commit to integrating into society.
He doesn’t want to repeal the Affordable Care Act, but he knows the law needs to be changed to address health care affordability because his premiums went up 20 percent. But if elected officials would focus on issues instead of the politics, he said, solutions could be found because there are so many areas of agreement, such as allowing interstate competition for insurers and covering existing conditions.
He supports military aid to Israel, and he’s hopeful that the Israelis and Palestinians soon will grow weary of conflict and accept that it’s time to coexist.
Such is the optimism of a candidate who knows he’s a long shot in an 18-candidate field. “I’m a great tennis player,” he said. “I’ll challenge anyone, including Serena Williams.”