Indian American running for San Ramon mayor

Ritu Jha-

Indian American Aparna Madireddi, who is running for mayor of San Ramon, California, says she started feeling frustrated after noticing that more wasn’t being done to make the city fiscally sustainable, long term, when so many practical options are available.

If elected, Madireddi would be the first Indian American to occupy the seat, which is being vacated by Mayor Bill Clarkson at the end of his term.

“Instead of complaining or criticizing, I decided to run to highlight my vision and goals,” Madireddi told indica.

She has been living in San Ramon for 22 years, and having met with and talked to thousands of residents, she has a deeper level of understanding of their concerns, she said.

“I have an in-depth knowledge of our city’s finances and thoroughly understand the budget and its constraints. I want to ensure that San Ramon can maintain its employee benefits and retirement obligations, long term,’ said Madireddi, who feels excited and proud at the same time about being the mayoral candidate.

Talking about the issues the city has been facing, Madireddi said, “The city is at a critical point. We live in a different era where things are changing rapidly.”

Policies and ideas that may have worked in the past will not pass the litmus test today, when it comes to effective governance, Madireddi said. She wants San Ramon to be fiscally smart and sound for decades to come. “Forewarned is forearmed. If you can anticipate what is coming, you will be prepared to deal with it much more effectively. That is the only way that the current and future generations can continue to enjoy living here just as much as previous generations did.”

“Through my long history of leadership experience in multiple civic and community endeavors at the local and county level, I have gained a clear understanding of the factors that will keep our community vibrant and thriving,” said Madireddi. “My graduate work in Urban and Rural Geography gives me a unique planning perspective regarding any additional development and its effects on the environment, and also on the long term requirements of our city.”

Only someone who has understood, deeply, how this process works will be able to lead the city effectively, she says. “That’s why I feel confident that I’m the right representative for our thriving city,” said Madireddi who unsuccessfully ran in 2018 for a City Council seat, which she calls as a learning experience.

“It made me even more determined,” said Madireddi, who serves as the chair of the Open Space Committee for the City of San Ramon because open spaces, parks, and trails are very important to her.

Madireddi has also been appointed to serve as the District 2 Representative for Contra Costa County for the Census 2020 Steering Committee, and subsequently, was also asked to serve on the Census Finance sub-committee.

When indica asked what she would offer that she believes the city has been missing and what she would do during her tenure, Madireddi said her focus would be debt management. She says she can’t have the “let’s kick the can down the road and have someone else deal with it” approach any longer. “If the city continues with that attitude, the slightest downturn in economy can lead to layoffs, tax increases, cutting back on services, etc.”

“There’s no way the city can say it has a balanced budget when there is a huge debt to pay off,” she said. “If a city’s debt keeps growing, a host of new problems will come up, and it’ll threaten our sustainability. We can’t keep adding housing and traffic if we won’t have funds to maintain the infrastructure.”

Having lived in the city for over two decades, she said, she has lived through circumstances where municipalities were being told that they had to do what the state was telling them to do – housing, transportation, infrastructure, what goes where, and how much of it goes into each neighborhood. The cities that had leaders who understood the shifts in the wind before a hurricane hit them were able to navigate their cities very successfully than those whose leaders had no clue what was coming their way.

“In 2018, when state Sen. Scott Wiener’s aggressive housing bill, SB 827. failed, I had indicated that the state is going to come back with an even more forceful bill to take away local control and decide what we, as a City can or cannot do,” said Madireddi.

“Now we have SB 330, the Housing Crisis Act of 2019. This bill will have a significant impact on our communities and change the landscape completely if we are not equipped to comprehend all the nuances,” said Madireddi. “I intend to be a strong advocate for San Ramon residents and will not be afraid to make the tough decisions.”

She said she is a big advocate of local control and will do whatever it takes to maintain that, while increasing retail to increase sales tax numbers and not just relying on property taxes.

She believes in engaging the community and having residents participate in developing a comprehensive plan, when it comes to the city’s future is very important.

By doing so, she can become an even more effective watchdog for the city and hold individuals and agencies accountable for their actions when it comes to things like traffic congestion, 5G, Sunset’s 4500 unit project proposal, any housing proposals on the San Ramon golf course, the Urban Limit Line in Tassajara Valley, and developments like The Preserve (formerly known as Faria), she said.

The candidate said keeping residents informed and open space protection are also important issues. “As the chair of the Open Space Advisory Committee for our city, that has always been my priority.”

Born in India, Madireddi and her husband have been running software company Arvasoft Inc. in San Ramon since 1998.

San Ramon has approximately 41,000 registered voters. As per 2011 data, it had a little over 8,000 Indian Americans.

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