The Tribune’s Guide to the San Ramon Mayoral Candidates

Six+candidates+are+running+for+the+position+of+San+Ramon+Mayor.

Eva Shen

Six candidates are running for the position of San Ramon Mayor.

Eva Shen and Aditi Praveen

Aparna Madireddi

Favorite place to spend time in San Ramon:

Forest Home Farms, Bishop Ranch Regional Preserve, Central Park

On embracing diversity:

Madireddi is a founding and active member of the San Ramon Valley Diversity Coalition Committee that works with local businesses, city leaders, and police officials to address diversity and mental health issues. 

“We have spent many hours talking to people from diverse backgrounds and listening to what they are saying and how they are feeling,” Madireddi said. These diverse backgrounds range from students to educators to residents of different cultural and economic backgrounds.

With the Coalition, she attempts to provide a forum for “constructive dialogue” and a community of “inclusion and equity.”

“One or two members from the San Ramon Police Department always attend these meetings,” Madireddi said, “in order to understand the challenges they face in our diverse community and what they can do to continue to build trust with all residents.”

On open spaces vs. new development: 

 “Balancing both [new development and open spaces] are important,” Madireddi said.  

As Chair of the City’s Open Space Committee, Madireddi believes that expanding development would strain the city’s finances and unfairly burden taxpayers.

“Who will pay for all the infrastructure? How will services be impacted – police, water, schools, traffic?” Madireddi said. “There is no way to pay for all this growth. It’s too much!”

She was against the approval of the construction of 4500 new homes, as well as another 634 units in the Crow Canyon area.

“I want to ensure that our residents have the high quality of life they invested in when they chose San Ramon to be their home,” Madireddi said. 

On defunding the police:  

The Diversity Coalition Committee, a grassroots committee of which Madireddi is a founding and active member, partners frequently with the police department to encourage diversity and mental health awareness. 

Depending on the data released in mid-December, Madireddi believes that reopening is plausible after this December, provided adequate local testing, proper ventilation in classrooms, and social distancing protocols.”

“I do not support defunding,” Madireddi said.I would continue supporting our [police department] as they continue working with our community to build trust and partnerships with residents and businesses and revisit some of their training policies.”

She hopes that residents will take advantage of the Citizens’ Police Advisory Task Force to provide input and feedback for the police department. 

Madireddi believes that defunding the police would cause insurance rates to rapidly rise and compromise the safety of school districts, residents, and businesses. With 69 sworn police officers in the San Ramon Police Department currently, Madireddi states that any less would be inadequate.

“It is a very demoralizing term for our police officers who work very hard, every day, to keep us safe,” Madireddi said. “They have families and children, too. Imagine your parents being called derogatory names for the job they are doing. Would you like that? It is the same for them, too. Nothing changes. A few bad officers does not represent an entire police force.”

On supporting San Ramon residents during the COVID-19 pandemic:  

Madireddi has implemented three Task Forces for COVID-19 relief: the Business Recovery Task Force, the Citizen’s Welfare Task Force, and the San Ramon Valley Youth Task Force.

The Business Recovery Task Force focuses on helping affected businesses.

The Citizen’s Welfare Task Force focuses on health, wellness, transportation, housing and recreational needs for adults and seniors (including seniors with disabilities). 

The San Ramon Valley Youth Task Force focuses on children and their “well-being, educational & recreational needs, including children with special needs.” She intended for the Task Force to be a “safe place” for students to share their viewpoints and take on leadership roles.

On current transportation options in San Ramon: 

“We don’t have adequate public transportation within the City,” said Madireddi. “That is why it is important to be realistic about the amount of new housing… and understand how it will impact traffic and our quality of life.”

COVID-19 has brought a period of transportation inactivity on the roads, and Madireddi believes that this is the “best chance to address transportation concerns in our City.” 

She plans to work with car rental companies to transport seniors and students, create more pedestrian and bicycle lanes and create small shopping enclaves within neighborhoods to curb traffic. She supports the construction of the Iron Horse Trail Overcrossing on Bollinger Canyon Road.

Madireddi believes that defunding the police would cause insurance rates to rapidly rise and compromise the safety of school districts, residents, and businesses.”

 On involving residents in the decision-making process:

“Every resident-driven Task Force I am proposing is because I want to involve all residents and keep the process very transparent,” said Madireddi.

These Task Forces include the Citizen’s Welfare Task Force, the San Ramon Valley Youth Task Force, and the Business Recovery Task Force.

On reopening schools: 

Depending on the data released in mid-December, Madireddi believes that reopening is plausible after this December, provided adequate local testing, proper ventilation in classrooms, and social distancing protocols. 

Madireddi has been working with the Director of Student Services, SRVUSD, and others. 

“I, too, want to make sure our students stay safe at all times,” said Madireddi, pointing to other countries as examples of successful reopening. “So, [I] am taking this very seriously.”

 

Dave Hudson

Favorite place to spend time in the city: 

San Ramon Golf (Royal Vista), the City Center when he’s not at City Hall.

 On embracing diversity: 

“We’ve embraced diversity long before BLM [the Black Lives Matter movement],” said Hudson. 

He brought up a favorite phrase of H. Abram Wilson, the mayor of San Ramon in 2003: “Together we can.”

On open spaces vs. new development: 

I won’t vote to defund the police department that I fought to form in 2007.”

— Dave Hudson

“There is no one without the other,” Hudson said. 

On October 15th, the Association of Bay Area Governments (ABAG) will vote for a sustainable community strategy, a plan which Hudson supports.

On defunding the police: 

Hudson was one of the early advocates for a local San Ramon police force. 

“I won’t vote to defund the police department that I fought to form in 2007,” Hudson said. 

Hudson was on the City Council in 2003, during Mayor Wilson’s term. “All of us on council saw the problems the country is experiencing and we did something about it,” Hudson said, referring to the founding of the police department. 

On current transportation options in San Ramon: 

Hudson currently sits on the Contra Costa Transportation Authority and will be the chairman of the Board of Directors for the Central Contra Costa Transit Authority in 2021. 

“The options are good and getting better,” Hudson stated.

He supports expanding TRAFFIX services to Dougherty Valley, although he concedes that COVID-19 has negatively influenced transit financially. Additionally, he supports the sustainable community strategy, in hopes of less congestion, greenhouse gas emissions and vehicle miles traveled.

“October 15th will be a battle to show the Bay Area that San Jose/Santa Clara needs to take 50% of the housing growth in the coming decade,” said Hudson, referring to the approval of the sustainable community strategy plan. 

On involving residents in the decision-making process:

“I still believe elections are a great time to walk neighborhoods and introduce yourself,” said Hudson. He also invites residents to contact him via his home phone and email, which can be found in his candidate information

 On reopening: 

“Open now!” said Hudson. “As a B.O.D. for TRAFFIX, we will be ready to serve the students on day one.”

Dinesh Govindarao

Favorite place to spend time in the city: 

Govindarao expresses his love of the outdoors when talking about his favorite places to spend time in San Ramon “We live in such an amazing city.  I love to spend time outdoors at our various parks, such as playing bocce ball at Ramona Park, sports at Arlington Park and Athan Downs, basketball at Limerick or Six Pillars Park.”

On embracing diversity:

“The focus needs to be on promoting diversity and inclusion.  We need to make sure everyone has a voice and is being heard in our community,” stated Govindarao. 

He emphasized his campaign’s dedication to promoting representation within city committees.

Open Spaces vs New Development:

“We should take a balanced approach on this.  It is important for us to preserve our open space and maintain our urban boundaries.  The state of CA is also mandating homes to be built due to the housing deficit we currently face.  It is important that we maintain control over where we build our new homes.  If we are mandated to build more homes, then we need to make sure we have the infrastructure to support this,” stated Govindarao. 

He firmly believes, however, that no development should take place without taking into account the opinions of San Ramon residents.

On Defunding the San Ramon Police Department:

“We need to take time to understand what our residents’ views are on defunding the police and reallocation of funds.  My vision is to have San Ramon be one of the safest cities in CA.  Currently, we have one of the lowest ratios of police officers to 1000 residents when compared to cities of similar size,” states Govindarao. “I would like to have more education for our police on systemic racism, implicit bias, and cultural sensitivity.”

The focus needs to be on promoting diversity and inclusion.  We need to make sure everyone has a voice and is being heard in our community.”

— Dinesh Govindarao

Govindarao also brings up the necessity to “allocate funds for mental health resources to assist our police” as well as encouraging our “police department to have more community outreach with our residents so both parties can get to know each other better.”

On supporting San Ramon residents during the COVID-19 pandemic:   

Govindarao brings up the importance of providing mental health support in San Ramon to those afflicted/struggling during these tough times.

“COVID-19 has affected all facets of our society.  I would like to explore how we can optimize keeping our economy open while not compromising the safety of our residents.  As someone who is Mayor and a physician, I would try to partner with the county and work towards practical and data-driven solutions,” states Govindarao.

On Public Transportation in San Ramon:

“We need to have better and more frequent access to public transportation so more people are driving less and utilizing public transportation in our city.  I also support the bicycle master plan which will connect many parts of our city and make it easier and safer to get around the city by bicycle,” states Govindarao. “I support the Bollinger Canyon pedestrian/bicycle overpass which will also reduce traffic congestion in that area.  I would like to see if we can expand the TRAFFIX program so more children can take the bus to school.” 

Govindarao also states the importance of exploring “more smart traffic light technology to improve our traffic congestion.”

On involving residents in the decision-making process:

“It is important to be transparent with our residents.  We need to make sure we communicate frequently regarding upcoming events and meetings,” states Govindarao.  “We should give more opportunities for our residents to feel welcome and participate in decision-making processes in our city.”

Govindarao also emphasizes that he would “reach out to our residents and strongly encourage” conversation if elected as Mayor.

On Reopening Schools:

“… As a parent of a junior in high school and an eighth grader in middle school, this is very important to me.  I would like for us to strongly consider opening schools in a safe fashion.  When we open schools, we need to make sure proper protocols are in place such as testing, contact tracing, proper PPE, proper hygiene, cleaning, etc,” states Govindarao.

Sabina Zafar

On her favorite place in San Ramon:

“I love hiking and biking, and now during a pandemic, I love hiking and biking even more.” Zafar stated. “We’re so fortunate to live in a community that has such good access to nature.”

On embracing diversity:

“We have to listen to the diversity coalition in San Ramon, and it’s important for me to listen to the people as well,” Zafar stated. She believes that the best solutions will come from listening to those afflicted with racial discrimination in our society.

Open Spaces vs New Development.

In terms of her priority between preserving San Ramon’s open spaces and working to develop new buildings, it’s a bit of a mix for Zafar. “We have to build a city that’s more accessible to younger people (only 3% of our population falls between ages 18-29) and we have to create better housing options for them,” Zafar stated. “However, at the same time, it’s important to create a city that prioritizes and respects its open spaces.”

On Defunding the San Ramon Police Department:

“I don’t support defunding the police but I do support increasing the budgets of the Mental Health Services in San Ramon and other social services that will benefit our community,” Zafar stated.

Supporting Small Businesses is a priority, making sure they have the resources to access federal loans and keep themselves afloat during this pandemic.”

— Sabina Zafar

On supporting San Ramon residents during the COVID-19 pandemic:   

“Supporting Small Businesses is a priority, making sure they have the resources to access federal loans and keep themselves afloat during this pandemic,” Zafar stated. “Also, working closely with the Chamber of Commerce and making sure that when businesses reopen, they have access to appropriate PPE.”

On Public Transportation in San Ramon

“Increasing funding for public transportation and increasing public transportation options. Other options include introducing mandatory work-from-home days in San Ramon, as well as increasing shared transportation ideas and bike-ability.” stated Zafar.

On involving residents in the decision-making process:

“It’s a two-way conversation. Show up to City Council meetings, send me emails, contact me in any way that you can and I’ll be sure to take your issues and concerns as seriously as possible.”

On Reopening Schools

“We have to watch the data; if the data indicates that cases are spreading, then reopening is out of the question. However, if the numbers are good and we can provide students with appropriate PPE, reopening schools is a good idea.” Zafar stated.

 

Sanat Sethy

Favorite place to spend time in San Ramon:

“I go to the parks, play with [my] kids, go on morning walks, things like that,” said Sethy. 

On embracing diversity:

“I’ve been living here for 13 years as a resident… I’ve never heard of any problems, I’ve never seen any kind of problem,” Sethy said. He claims that San Ramon’s diversity has risen over the last 20 years. 

“Going to your first question on Black Lives Matter, I support everything, I support anything, all lives matter. Every life matters. That’s one thing I have to say,” Sethy added. “[And] any kind of peaceful protest I support.”

On open spaces vs. new development:

“It’s my viewpoint to agree with both,” said Sethy, but adds that he leans towards utilizing existing open spaces. 

“I do not want to support any more rapid development. Growth is good, I like growth. But it should be sustainable growth,” he said.

Sethy points out that 20 years ago, San Ramon and Danville had similar population densities. Currently, our population nearly doubles that of Danville. 

Sethy believes that building new houses will put San Ramon in a disadvantageous situation financially, so he supports infrastructure development over housing. He states that San Ramon’s high schools cannot support the influx of new students that come with housing. 

On defunding the San Ramon Police Department: 

“I do not want to defund our police. Never want to defund our police,” said Sethy. “If you look at our data… each year our crime rate goes up.” He believes that it is necessary to collaborate with police officers to curb this. 

“It’s not about the solution, it’s all about what you intend to do,” said Sethy. “The solution comes with talking to the group, talking to the community, and then you find the solution.”

On supporting San Ramon residents during the COVID-19 pandemic:

Sethy prioritizes supporting businesses and their growth. He wants to create a forum for San Ramon residents and provide “re-consultations” for businesses. 

Sethy believes that building new houses will put San Ramon in a disadvantageous situation financially, so he supports infrastructure development over housing.”

On current transportation options in San Ramon:

“Our transportation options are pretty bad because our current leaders are not doing anything,” claimed Sethy. He cites his own experiences with school drop-offs at Pine Valley Middle School. 

He wants to implement more TRAFFIX buses and bicycle lanes to improve San Ramon’s transportation infrastructure.

On involving residents in the decision-making process:

“Every community is a different community and every group has different issues… Engage the community, educate the community,” Sethy said. “When you meet or talk, help them to understand the problem.”

On reopening schools: 

Sethy supports a hybrid model of education: he dislikes completely online school, but also says that class sizes are too large for a full reopening. 

Susmita Nayak

On her favorite place in San Ramon:

“Every day, I like taking a walk on the Iron Horse trail during my lunch break, it’s kind of one of my favorite activities. Tassajara Ranch is also one of my favorite places to hang out with my kids. I love the open space with scenic views with cattle and horses around.” Nayak stated.

On embracing diversity:

“Black [Lives] Matter, and all lives are important and need to be valued and respected fairly,” states Nayak. “San Ramon can be a model of inclusion, diversity and citizen engagement.”

Open Spaces vs New Development.

“San Ramon is a vibrant community and considered one of the safest cities to live in with your family. In recent years San Ramon has experienced tremendous change and growth, and we need to make sure that it remains the place we are proud to call home. Preserving open space and utilizing our existing building with sustainable growth is the key to secure the beautiful future of our city.” states Nayak.

On Defunding the San Ramon Police Department

“Every community and city is different, the law enforcement department doesn’t fit the same set of rules for each community. Our city is one of the safest cities in the US and our police department plays a great role in keeping us safe,” states Nayak. “In our city, the police reform initiative was followed by peaceful protest. I am not in favor of defunding our San Ramon police. We are proud of them.”

On supporting San Ramon residents during the COVID-19 pandemic:   

“Crisis and [times] like this always leads to different legislatures, adaptability, creativity, a new way[s] of looking at [life] and alternate solutions and options to tap into the resources. Economic Development through municipal fiber optics investment” Nayak states that she plans “to install solar panels at city buildings (including city hall, police stations), parking lots and support clean technology.”

On Public Transportation in San Ramon:

“[We] need to encourage and promote more biking, carpool, vanpool, rideshare, bus services, mass transits (electric/hybrid/clean sustainable resources) and support for clean technology to reduce the carbon footprint with zero-emission by 2035,” stated Nayak.

On involving residents in the decision-making process:

“Community engagement through face-to-face meetings at city hall, emails, calls, community events, meetings through the City clerk at city hall” is what Nayak believes will involve residents more in the decision-making process.

On Reopening Schools

“This decision has to be taken by the SRVUSD Board and Superintendent John Malloy. I personally feel socializing and real classrooms have their own benefits but during this pandemic, unless it is completely safe for the students, distance learning is working out for everyone now, though younger kids are facing some challenges related to longer screen time.” Nayak states. “Safety is the foremost important factor for students and everyone.”