Max was born and raised in Sacramento and graduated from C.K. McClatchy High School. He and his wife Nika now own a house in Chico. Max is a fifth-generation Californian and proud of his Central Valley roots. His great-great-grandfather Edwin Smith was the pastor of Chico’s First Methodist Episcopal Church during World War One.
Max served in the U.S. Army’s 10th Mountain Division and was stationed in Sadr City, Western Baghdad, and Kirkuk. He went on daily raids and patrols “outside the wire” as part of a four man squad and survived numerous IED and mortar attacks. He earned his Combat Infantry Badge in a firefight during an unsuccessful attempt to rescue a journalist who had been captured by terrorists. Max ‘s leadership potential was recognized immediately by his superiors, and he was quickly promoted to Sergeant, becoming an acting squad leader during his second deployment.
After completing his deployments, Max enrolled at UC Berkeley. After graduating magna cum laude in 2011, he rejoined the Army Reserves and has served ever since. Max is now a Sergeant First Class, the lead NCO of a Civil Affairs Team.
Max joined the Foreign Service in 2012 as an economic generalist and served as a Foreign Service Officer in Honduras, Mexico, Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula, and Washington, DC. In Honduras, he was the lead American on agricultural issues, supporting the regional USDA Foreign Agricultural Service Officer based in Guatemala. In Mexico, he was the officer in charge of protecting the rights of Americans arrested in Baja California. His last overseas tour as an FSO was to the Sinai Peninsula, where he served not as a diplomat but instead as an observer with the multi-national force enforcing the 1982 Egyptian-Israeli peace treaty. In Washington, DC, Max worked with USDA on our food security support to the United Nations. In 2019, he took a leave of absence from the Foreign Service to pursue a PhD in Policy Analysis at RAND. Max was required by law to resign from his position with the State Department before announcing his candidacy for Congress.
While serving abroad, Max saw firsthand how fragile democracy is and how easily malicious actors can corrupt it from within. After seeing Congressman Doug LaMalfa endorse Donald Trump’s unfounded claims of election fraud, vote against certifying the results of the election, and make excuses for the violent riot in our nation’s Capitol Building on the Sixth of January, Max couldn’t sit back.
Doug LaMalfa is undermining the foundation of our democracy: our shared understanding that those defeated at the ballot box accept that they have lost. LaMalfa chose Trump over democracy and party over country. He is unfit for office and must be defeated in 2022. With the stakes for our country so high, Max is stepping up to serve again.