RALEIGH — Adina Safta’s journey from her birthplace of Romania to the second story of a downtown Raleigh office is the kind of story you want to hear in person.
Born in Romania and growing up in a post-communism country, Safta says “the things that I had to see my parents having to do in a third world country” affected her. When she came to the United States, it was quite the change.
“When I came here, it was like, oh my gosh, how are people living like this? I actually pictured coming here and money being on trees because that’s what the American dream is. You go there and anything can be yours,” she said in an interview with North State Journal.
Arriving in New York in April 2000, her family did not speak English. Safta was 10 years old. Not even understanding what an Exit sign was on the highway, she added. Safta remembers at one point asking her parents “Why did we come here?” The reason, she says, was freedom.
“They thought that, no matter where in the world they would go, the only place where freedom would never be lost is America,” she said.
The family first moved into a one-bedroom apartment in Queens. Eventually, the family settled in New Jersey. Her mom, Safta says, thought New Jersey sounded fun from the band Bon Jovi.
Graduating High School, Safta said at first she wanted to be a news anchor, and moved to south Florida. She got a job not in the news but in banking at the age of 17.
She paid her way through college, worked full-time, but wanted to find home.
“I know home is not in Romania, but I know it’s a feeling, not a place and I need to find it. So I just took a map out,” she said. “Where in this country do I want to go? And something just drew me to North Carolina. I looked for places that were like Fort Lauderdale that were in the growing stages that like development and I can have an impact in. I was with PNC at the time. So PNC and RBC, they were merging. It was kind of a perfect marriage at the time, I took a trip here – it was like an anchor drops from under me.”
To extend the metaphor, there’s an actual anchor bar underneath the frame of the office.
When downtown Raleigh descended into chaos during the summer of 2020, Safta had a vantage point of the riots first-hand from Fayetteville Street.
“For the longest time people asked, why do you love Raleigh so much? And now I tell them, because I need to be here for District 2 so we can save this war zone,” she says. “We allowed our downtown to be destroyed and not only destroyed, we didn’t do anything after it. Businesses left, they’re not coming back, and nobody tried to stop them. A good friend of mine owned a candy store down the road. He told me ‘Adina, we have to close’ and that’s what happened. Our downtown was allowed to be destroyed.”
Shifting to her reasons for running for Congress, Safta said her time opening a small business drove home the need to solve problems in Washington. She said she asked her parents about freedom, the very reason they came to the U.S., and it was devastating to hear them say they no longer feel like it was worth the sacrifice.
“They gave up everything in their countries, a place they knew to come here and now we’re allowing it to disappear,” she said.
In January 2020, she started her own business assisting small businesses with their financial needs. Two months later, everything she worked for turned upside down during the coronavirus pandemic.
She said she noticed from her time in banking was that larger banks eliminated small business segments and her goal was to capitalize on that segment. Safta said small businesses are the lifeline of the economy and often times, they need the most help to grow. Helping clients navigate the rules of the Paycheck Protection Plan (PPP) showed her how it was mismanaged, and provided the impetus to run for office.
“I was never as involved as I am now. I’m a business woman. But when I saw the mess of how our money was being handled, I said,who’s doing this” The people that are making these decisions have no experience. You could just tell they’re just politicians,” she said.
The business-to-politics lane was traveled by one of Safta’s heroes, Donald Trump. She said the first book she read in English was “The Art of The Deal” and pulled out a well-worn copy from her desk.
“I’ve always, always looked up to Trump. I mean, since I was a little girl, I’ve held onto this book for the all those years. Something about his leadership, you know, he hired the first female to build his high rise, right? He used to always do things that like were outside of the box,” she says holding the book.
She said Trump is bold and fearless and is partly why she takes such public stands, including flying a large American flag right outside her window.
Safta added that when he announced his run for president, she thought he was crazy. “I was like, what are you doing? Then when I watched his campaign and realized, he’s gonna be amazing. I voted for him both times and I think he will go down in our history as the best president that got the least credit for everything.”
Pointing to her own reasons for running, she says that to protect freedom, “we need to save our economy” and how important it is for Wake County to be part of the solution. “If we don’t save our economy, we could stop talking about freedom because freedom doesn’t exist without a flourishing economy,” she says.
Safta faces two opponents in next Tuesday’s primary, Max Ganorkar and Christine Villaverde. The winner will take on Rep. Deborah Ross in the general election.