This Fourth of July was extra special for Kavita Tankha (seen in photograph above with husband Rajat Bahri), the Indian-American mayor of Los Altos Hills, California. It was the first time she led the July 4th Independence Day vehicle parade at the town of 8,00 people in the San Francisco Bay Area.
Due to the Covid-19 restrictions last year, the city had a low profile Independence Day celebration, but this year people came out in their vintage cars and parents came out with their kids to watch the vehicle caravan from both sides of the road, waving flags.
“This was our first big festival,” Tankha, who was elected the mayor of Los Altos early this year for a year, told indica News.
She was pleased that the town came out in strength. “People came out not just to support the mayor… it’s a new beginning after the pandemic,” she said.
She said that it had been a tough time but things were getting better. “It was sweet to see parents bringing in their kids, it’s a time to celebrate, it was symbolic.
“The fact that as a country we came out of the pandemic,” she added. “It’s the power of a nation that comes together. In a year the vaccine was done — and that is the reason it allowed us to come out and celebrate our democracy.”
Tankha, 53, is a long-time resident of Los Altos Hills. Before being elected to the Los Altos Hills City Council seat in 2018, she spent eight years on the Los Altos Hills Planning Commission.
She has a Bachelor in Arts and LLB degree from Delhi University, and an LLM from the Northwestern University School of Law, Chicago. For 15 years she worked as an attorney in large, multinational law firms around the world.
Asked about her Indian roots, Mayor Tankha said: “I feel very American and very Indian at the same time, and that’s the beauty of this country.”
She said: “I feel proud of both the heritages — US and India. We all come from different places but we come here for a shared dream, and that is the American way of life.”
Tankha is a long-time Democrat and has served on the National Finance, Committee, Hillary for America, has hosted numerous elected officials at her home in Los Altos Hills — from Vice President Kamala Harris to Congressman Ro Khanna and Congressman Ami Bera to name a few.
She is highly connected with the community’s work as well.
According to Wikipedia, the Los Altos Hills ZIP code 94022 appeared on the 2017 Forbes list of America’s most expensive ZIP codes., It was ranked the third most expensive in the United States, with a median home price of $7,755,000. In 2019, a Bloomberg analysis ranked Los Altos Hills the fourth richest town in the United States.
Tankha said that every city has its own challenges, and Los Altos a very educated city with very smart people and people who are every much engaged.
Talking about the work she would like to finish in her tenure, she said that a lot had changed with Covid but they were thinking of a public-private partnership to help install the underground utility and looking to expand broadband.
“In most parts of town it’s hard to bring broadband,” Tankha said.
She also has plans to maintain a pathway system so that people can walk.
“All the big decisions are in open and people have the opportunity to weigh in,” she said.
She also pointed out that the season of fires was just starting up.
“The fire came close enough — just five miles away from Los Altos Hills — last year,” said Tankha, who also serves on the boards of several non-profits and is committed to philanthropy and community engagement, with a focus on empowering women and girls.