Yogesh Chawla, an Indian American data analyst in Wisconsin, Feb. 20 was among the top two vote getters in a four-candidate primary election race for the Dane County Board District 6 seat, advancing to the general election in April.
Chawla, who earned 37.4 percent of the vote, was just behind environmental activist Pam Porter who tallied 40.7 percent of the vote.
The two candidates, who bested Britt Cudaback (9.4 percent) and Heather Driscoll (12.3 percent) in the primary, were separated by less than 150 votes, setting up an intriguing general election.
"I want to send a big thanks to Heather Driscoll and Britt Cudaback. This was an energetic campaign and both of them knocked on thousands of doors and engaged District 6 in important issues related to criminal justice, the environment, LGBTQ youth and participatory government," Chawla wrote in a Facebook post following the primary results. "Our district and our county are better off for their sustained contributions to our progressive values," he said.
"I look forward to continuing the spirited County Board race with Pam Porter and congratulate her and her team on advancing forward in the primary," he concluded.
Both Porter and Chawla have similar views, as they expressed during their campaign for the seat.
The Indian American has said that his work as a software and data specialist could help him address racial disparities in Dane County.
“I think that’s something we don’t have a great history with and it needs to be made a priority,” Chawla said in a Wisconsin State Journal report.
Chawla has some political experience, having previously worked as a city of Madison election official, absentee ballot courier and former special registration deputy, Progressive Dane Steering Committee and former co-chair, Democratic Party volunteer and canvasser.
He said he is running for the post because the "district deserves an activist who will work hard to implement progressive change for our community," according to a The Cap Times report.
"Dane County has some of the most alarming racial disparities in the entire country within our criminal justice system, schools, and in terms of economic opportunity," he said in the report. "I will make it a priority to change that."
Additionally, Chawla has served on the Schenk-Atwood-Starkweather-Yahara neighborhood association as a Yahara representative, was an Atwoodfest organizer and volunteer, a Legacy Solar co-op member, and co-founder of the Premiere Generation Ink poetry publishing company, among other stops.
A graduate of the State University of New York-Binghamton, earning a bachelor's in computer science, Chawla said that, if elected, he will prioritize connecting the work of the county board to its neighborhood, and work hard to make sure all of our neighbors can participate fully in county government.
The winner of the April 3 general election will take over for John Hendrick, who had previously announced he would not seek re-election.
Hendrick, who has represented several East Madison neighborhoods on the County Board since 1994, has endorsed Chawla to replace him, according to the Chawla campaign.
“Yogesh exemplifies the surge of new leaders who offer hope for our county, our state and our nation. District 6 deserves a bold progressive with the tech savvy to make an immediate difference, from racial disparities to climate change,” Hendrick said in a statement posted on the campaign's Facebook page.