Thursday, October 30, 2008

Immigrant hoping to "give back" seeks office

A lovely story about a woman who immigrated here from Ukraine 30 years ago and now is running for Congress. Please read the whole story. DP

By DOM COSENTINO, The Intelligencer

The moment was so surreal, so incredibly unfathomable, that Marina Kats was left to describe it as “an out-of-body experience.”

It happened just last month, at a Center City breakfast for Mikhail Gorbachev. The former premier of the former Soviet Union, Gorbachev was in town for a few days to receive the Liberty Medal at the National Constitution Center.

The morning after the ceremony, as he made his way around the private breakfast gathering, Gorbachev was introduced to Kats. A Ukrainian immigrant who had fled the U.S.S.R. with her family nearly 30 years ago, Kats eventually became a successful lawyer and was now running for Congress.

She handed Gorbachev a piece of her campaign literature. He offered to sign it and even pledged his support.

And she couldn't believe it.

“When you left,” she said of her family's decision to move to the United States, “you were (branded as) a person who was a traitor, and now a former president of the Soviet Union is signing your palm card as you are running for Congress in the United States of America? It's really mind-boggling to me.”

Kats was 18 in 1979, when she came to this country with her parents, Roman and Nelya. She had no money and didn't know any English. But she worked her way through Temple University, then Temple Law, and has since become a successful lawyer and businesswoman with a net worth estimated at more than $10 million, according to financial disclosure reports.

Now 47 and an Abington resident, Kats is running for Congress in the 13th District, which includes parts of Northeast Philadelphia and most of Montgomery County. She is a Republican challenging two-term incumbent Democrat Allyson Schwartz in a race that also includes Constitution Party candidate John McDermott.

Kats is only doing it, she said, because she wants to “give back.”

“The country gave me everything,” she said. “I am who I am because of this country.”
Be sure to read the rest of this story! This is only a small part of it.

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