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2022 San Ramon Mayoral Election Candidates
April 22, 2023
Councilmember Sabina Zafar, Physician Dinesh Govindarao and Mayor Dave Hudson ran in the 2022 San Ramon mayoral election. The Wildcat Tribune profiled candidates Zafar and Govindarao prior to the election.
Physician Dinesh Govindarao competes in the San Ramon mayoral race for the second time
East Bay Times-endorsed mayoral candidate and physician Dinesh Govindarao returns in second bid this year, hoping to defeat opponents Councilmember Sabina Zafar and Mayor Dave Hudson.
Govindarao placed third out of six candidates in the 2020 election, losing to Hudson, whose campaign emphasizes his 25 years of experience on San Ramon City Councils. Another one of his opponents was Zafar, who is also returning to run in this year’s election with goals of making San Ramon more environmentally friendly and bringing a fresh perspective into the mayoral office. One of Govindarao’s top priorities is to address the housing crisis in San Ramon without encroaching on public spaces or becoming a sprawling commuter city.
“Overcrowded growth is an issue, but at the same time, on the flip side, it’s also making sure that we can have affordable housing so people don’t have to commute from long distances to be able to live here. One of my policies is smart, sensible growth, and planning for smart and sensible roads. One of my policies is [that] we have to be smart and sensible about it. The other thing is to preserve our neighborhoods. We have to really be strategic on how we do this so [that] it creates the least amount of negative impact for the residents.”
Govindarao’s campaign also focuses on his deep roots in San Ramon. He graduated from California High School in 1998, attended U.C. Berkeley, got certified as a physician, and returned to raise his children in San Ramon. Govindarao believes that his personal history in San Ramon makes him more qualified for the position of mayor.
“Someone like myself could be a good bridge, given that I have grown up in the city,” Govindarao said. “I have raised my kids here in the city, my parents are aging here. So [having] seen that full spectrum, I can relate with how things were back in the day, the small town feel, and then also understand, being a minority myself, a lot of our demographic shifts that have occurred.”
Govindarao wants to form more personal connections with voters to fix the disconnect between residents and local leaders that he sees today.”
Since the 2020 election, in which the campaigning was limited due to COVID restrictions and safety precautions, Govindarao has sought to increase his support base by canvassing.
“The kind of person that I am, I like to really try to go and meet people and make that connection,” Govindarao said. “That affected my [last] campaign a lot because I wasn’t able to do that. But this time, we’ve knocked on thousands and thousands and thousands of doors.”
Govindarao wants to form more personal connections with voters to fix the disconnect between residents and local leaders that he sees today.
“A lot of people ask me, and It saddens me when I hear it, this question: ‘Who’s our current mayor?’ That absolutely should not happen. If I was elected mayor, people [would] know I’m the mayor, because I’m going to connect with the people and I’m going to be out there. It’s not an arrogant statement,” Govindarao said. “It’s more of a statement of ‘you’re going to see me out there connecting with people,’ just like [how] I’ve walked pretty much every neighborhood in this city.”
As mayor, Govindarao wants to continue his tradition of canvassing through “walk and talks,” which would be informal meetings in which the mayor can hear the most pressing issues concerning San Ramon residents face-to-face. Additionally, he also wants to start a new tradition of displaying the graduating class photos of local high schools like California High School and Dougherty Valley High School in City Hall.
“We don’t really recognize our graduating class at City Hall. I’d like to see that happen,” Govindarao said. “Let’s celebrate our seniors and get them more involved [because] they’re a part of the city and they’re part of the community.”
As Nov. 8 draws closer, San Ramon voters will decide the success of Dinesh Govindarao’s second bid for mayor. No matter the result, Govindarao promises that he won’t be giving up anytime soon.
“I’m not a career politician,” Govindarao said. “I’m not looking to climb the political ladder. I am here to serve our local city. One of my other candidates wants to be there, [but] this is where I want to serve. This is where I want to be. I’m not going anywhere.”
Councilmember Sabina Zafar returns in second bid for mayor
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.”