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Sri Lankan American siblings running for separate offices in Maryland

Jun 6, 2018
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Two Sri Lankan American siblings who are candidates for separate offices in Maryland, Thiru and Krishanti Vignarajah, have opened up about their relationship for the first time, as the election for their respective races near.

Thiru, who is running for Baltimore city state’s attorney, and Krishanti, a former policy director for Michelle Obama at the White House who is running for governor, opened up about their lives growing up in a report published by Baltimore Magazine.

As the children of two immigrant Baltimore City Public School teachers, Thiru and Krishanti are the epitome of the American dream, the report said, describing how their parents fled civil unrest in Sri Lanka and sought refuge in the Edmondson Heights neighborhood in Baltimore City. Thiru went on to pursue law at Harvard—becoming the editor of the Harvard Law Review “before Barack Obama made it cool,” the report said. And his younger sister, Krishanti, studied political science and molecular cellular and developmental biology at Yale.

“If you ask my father, he would tell you, they didn’t really know of the Ivy League, and they always kind of encouraged us to realize our potential,” Krishanti told the publication.

“But it was never sort of pressure. It was never, ‘You will go to a top notch academic institution.’ I think there was an expectation that we would make something of ourselves and find some way to give back,” she added.

According to the report, neither of the siblings had any intention to run for office.

Thiru, the report said, was inspired to run following the death of Freddie Gray. As a former Maryland deputy attorney general, he witnessed firsthand how the increased violence and homicide rates in Baltimore were tearing communities apart, it said.

“I suddenly realized that it was not going to get better unless we had real leadership in the role of the state’s attorney. I just couldn’t sit back and watch anymore,” he said in the report.

Krishanti told the publication that she was asked to run following a keynote address at the Western Maryland Democratic Summit in April 2017.

The report added that a political consultant approached her and said, “You’re not going to like me in five minutes. You’re going to hate me in five months,” and showed Krishanti a crumpled piece of paper with names on it.

“She says, ‘None of these candidates could beat governor Hogan. Fortunately, I’ve just found my candidate,” Krishanti recalled.

Baltimore Magazine added that, while they kept focus on the issues and not their relationship with regard to their races, Thiru freely prattled on about his admiration for his little sister and all of her accomplishments.

“She’s extraordinary and we have a sibling rivalry like everybody else but there’s no one I would trust more with the biggest responsibilities on the Earth,” he said. “She is as humble as she is brilliant, she is as hardworking as she is charming.”

When asked in the report about a conflict of interest, Thiru quipped, “If a brother and sister didn’t disagree, nobody would believe it. There will be issues and subjects in which we may disagree, and we’ll talk about it and we’ll move forward. In some respects, that’s what I would say about a person in government that wasn’t family.”

Courtesy of India West

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