Indian American Dr Dinesh Govindarao in the running for mayor of San Ramon, CA

Ritu Jha-

Indian American community leader Dr. Dinesh Govindarao, who is running for mayor of San Ramon, California this November against the incumbent Dave Hudson and city councilmember Sabina Zafar (a Pakastani? American), says he looks at the city through the lens of various stages in life and it is this that will help him serve the community better as “a people’s mayor.”

In an exclusive interview with indica, Dr Govindarao said, “I am someone who looks at the city through the various stages of life.  I grew up here and I am raising my family here. I have a real understanding about the community and my parents are aging in place right here in the city.”

His parents moved to the US from India in 1970/1971.  He moved to San Ramon in 1979 when it was a small town from Clayton, CA. It was incorporated as a city in 1983. As a citizen of San Ramon, Dr. Govindarao said he has volunteered as a sports coach for over 12 years, he was on PTA board as well as in the school arts program.

Dr. Govindarao graduated high school at Cal High in San Ramon and went to UC Berkeley where he majored in genetics with a minor in business administration. He went to medical school at Drexel University, and later earned a master’s degree in public health from UCLA.

Dr. Govindarao, who ran unsuccessfully in 2020, sounded more confident this time. “I grew up here and know both the old and new San Ramon, especially the older demographics that has lived here for many years. I understand they have different ideas and thoughts. I want to be a bridge to bring our various communities together,” Dr. Govindarao said, referring to the sudden growth of Asian immigrants in the area.  Also, he has been involved at the city-wide level, serving a member of the San Ramon Library Advisory committee and a board member for the San Ramon Valley Education Foundation.  He has taken San Ramon Government 101, Citizen’s Planning Academy, and currently enrolled in Citizen’s Police Academy.  He has also completed Leadership San Ramon Valley.

Dr. Govindarao said he understands, because of his experience in both the private and public sector, how the two extremes work. “That is something I bring to the table.” Dr. Govindarao currently works as the Chief Medical Officer at the State Compensation Insurance Fund.

He said San Ramon is a welcoming city. “I want people know that. It’s a wonderful city, with lots of parks, great schools, and amazing quality of life.”

He added, “When people find out about San Ramon, they’re like, ‘Wow, we didn’t even know this place existed’. It’s a hidden gem.”

He says he calls this place his home for the last 43 years and says he would want to “promote San Ramon more and bring greater businesses to the area.” He also wants to focus on retaining businesses. “We need to really look into retaining our current businesses,” Dr. Govindarao said, referring to many businesses moving out or closing recently.

“I think it’s very, very important; it (retaining businesses) should be one of the big priorities,” he said. “Maintaining existing companies and at the same time thinking about other ways on how to increase our economic growth in the city.”

He said that while San Ramon is among the safest cities in California, “there is a little uptick in crime, and we have to take proactive measures.”

To bring down crime, he said he would like to focus on data analytics. “We also need to take a proactive approach. We need to do more community policing and establish a healthy relationship between law enforcement and the community.”

One of Dr Govindarao’s key community issues is open spaces. He said the state of California wants the city to plan for over 5000 housing units. “One of the things we want to do is preserve our open spaces and neighborhoods.” We have to figure out how we can plan to address these competing interests”

San Ramon’s population is 84,000, and Dr Govindarao says he wants to continue serving them rather than use the mayor’s post as a stepping stone. “I would love to serve for eight years as a mayor and take our city to the next level,” he said.

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