Councilmember Sabina Zafar returns in second bid for mayor

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Sabina Zafar

Sabina Zafar is one of three mayoral candidates in the 2022 San Ramon election.

Abby Kapur, Sports Editor

California Democratic Party-endorsed San Ramon Councilmember Sabina Zafar is challenging incumbent Dave Hudson in the upcoming mayoral election on Nov. 8, after placing second in the San Ramon mayoral election that voted Hudson into office in 2020.

Zafar’s campaign focuses on her leadership experience as a councilmember and VP at Oracle, as well as the fresh perspectives that she plans to bring with her into the mayor’s office. One way she hopes to incorporate San Ramon youth into city leadership is through a high school internship program with the mayor’s office.

“This is a program [about] educating our youth with local government and giving that opportunity to our students and building a bench for San Ramon of our youth leaders. So for me, that’s going to be very important, and I would like to establish that as mayor,” Zafar said.

Another one of her goals is to make San Ramon more environmentally friendly. In the past, Zafar sought to achieve this goal by amending the town’s general plan to include a climate action plan, which calls for San Ramon infrastructure to shift to using renewable energy and reducing water consumption as city facilities are updated.

“It’s important that our climate action plan is integrated into that general plan so that as we are planning for the future, we’re thoughtfully not only protecting our green spaces, but also building in a very environmentally friendly way and giving those directions as part of a climate action plan,” she said.

Her opponents for this election are Mayor Hudson and Dr. Dinesh Govindarao, both of whom ran in the 2020 race. Hudson’s campaign focuses on his previous experience serving as the mayor for two terms and on the Council for more than 25 years, while Govindarao’s campaign emphasizes his deep roots in San Ramon, as well as his insight into the city’s changing demographics. Since her loss in the mayoral election two years ago, Zafar has tried to connect with more constituents.

I want to be so approachable and available that anybody can reach out.”

“I don’t see a campaign as something that it ends. It’s a continuation of what you built in the last two years, so I’ve just been building up better [with] more communication with our residents, making sure that they know that I’m serving them and getting that name recognition,” she said. “One of the biggest complaints people [have] is ‘we didn’t hear [that] the Council was going to do that.’ I want to be so approachable and available that anybody can reach out,” Zafar explains.

The communication goes both ways. Constituents want to learn more about what the town council is doing, and Zafar wants to know what policies that voters are trying to push through.

“People have different ways of finding you as a representative,” Zafar said. “For me, that’s the most important thing: that I hear from somebody [about] what their issue is, versus trying to make policies in silos or bubbles.”

In addition to connecting with constituents now, Zafar hopes to get more involved with future generations of San Ramon. She wants to restart the tradition of mayors visiting elementary schools to meet local students.

“It’s not about me, but the mayor’s office has this kind of charm for young kids,” Zafar said. “And you know, they would just feel cool that ‘hey, the mayor’s reading to us,’ or something like that.”

Zafar’s desire to bring the community closer together made her ask the city to build path lights along City Hall to the Community Center four years ago. She believed that the construction of path lights would bring the town closer together, even if just by lighting the way to City Hall.

“I know it’s something small, but I find things like that so exciting, that we truly celebrate. It gives you a sense of that community. These little things, the path lights and the celebrations and the parades [are] what really makes our community,” Zafar said.

With under a week left until the election, San Ramon voters will soon make their decisions about how closely their views align with Zafar’s. For her part, she’s determined to bring a new perspective into the mayoral office.

“We need to get other people to get involved [to] serve our city,” Zafar said. “I’m thinking about what the future holds.”