Anu Natarajan, once poised to be the first Indian American woman to lead a U.S. city, lost her bid for Fremont’s mayoral seat Nov. 6 evening.
In the bitterly-contested race, laced with hints of back-room politicking and under-the-table bargaining, the Tamil Nadu-born Natarajan came in third with 16,375 votes, trailing fellow Democrat Bill Harrison, who won the race with 21,341 votes.
Republican Steve Cho garnered 19,957 votes to capture second place, while underdog contender Aziz Akbari – an Indian American sophomore at the University of Southern California took fourth place with 3,426 votes. All vote totals were confirmed by the Alameda County Registrar of Voters.
“I was totally disappointed by the results and shocked at coming in third,” Natarajan told India-West after election results. But, she added, “I was so proud of the campaign we ran, which was totally grassroots and engaged of people who believe in change.”
Natarajan said she had gained the support of 600 volunteers and 580 contributors. The trained architect raised approximately $137,000, more than any Fremont mayoral contender this season.
Natarajan will serve out her city council term, which expires in December 2014. She said she is committed to establishing Fremont as a hub for green technology by marketing the city aggressively to entrepreneurs. She will also continue her work to develop a pedestrian-friendly downtown area replete with high-end retail outlets and restaurants.
The urban planner, who serves as a program director for the American Leadership Forum at its Silicon Valley chapter, said she wants the city to expand its parks and would also include a cricket field.
Former Fremont planning commissioner Rakesh Sharma lost his bid for a city council seat, capturing 11,962 votes.