Santa Clara political science student to run for city council in 2020
The Santa Clara
May 24, 2018
Meet Rohan Kumar: 2019 Santa Clara graduate and 2020 city council candidate. He is passionate about education, minority empowerment and “The Office.”
“I’ve really always wanted to be a part of the community and be a change agent in the community,” Kumar said, a political science major inside and outside the classroom.
Although known around campus as Rohan Krishnakumar, he will be running as Rohan Kumar for his campaign for simplicity. Born in Cupertino and raised in Pleasanton, Kumar grew up with an older brother, Rahul Krishnakumar, Santa Clara class of 2013.
They share a love of politics, as Kumar is a self-described “political junkie” and reads any political content he can get his hands on.
Kumar began thinking about declaring candidacy for the 2020 election about a month ago and went public with his decision a week later.
“What I really thought was that a lot of lawmakers didn’t have time for me, or even for a lot of my friends,” Kumar said.
As a part of his campaign, Kumar is actively fighting against Measure A, a charter amendment to establish two districts and implement ranked-choice voting in the City of Santa Clara.
If the measure passes, Kumar’s campaign will be more difficult to wage. If it does not pass, minorities will be better incorporated into the city, according to Kumar.
“For me, it was just a situation of, I don’t really have anyone to help me so I have to help create my own change,” Kumar said.
Kumar’s campaign is supported by three pillars that make up his core message. The first is youth mobilization. His campaign slogan is “the future is now,” something that was inspired by what Kumar saw in recent activist events like the Women’s March and the March for Our Lives.
“It doesn’t need explanation that we are the future,” Kumar said. “We really are the ones who have the next voice.”
Kumar also encourages minority empowerment for the improved incorporation of the minority population. The City of Santa Clara is made up of 64 percent people of color, according to Kumar, and he intends to make them feel valued.
One way he plans to do this is by visiting Korean and Indian supermarkets and businesses on El Camino Real during and after campaigning.
His goal is to communicate and strategize with them to increase foot traffic and promote diverse promotional business techniques. He wants those business owners to feel heard and understood.
Kumar’s third pillar is centered on the reinvigoration of community and democratic values. He wants people to know if they have an issue or are passionate about a policy, they can speak to their city council about it. One way he will facilitate this pillar is by holding town hall meetings on campus in order to hear the voices of his fellow Santa Clara classmates.
Leading a campaign while balancing the student life of graduating early has filled up Kumar’s calendar. For him, time management skills come in handy.
“As a politician and as a public servant, time management is one of the most important skills that you need on the job,” Kumar said.
He is not running this campaign alone, though. He is aided by his team of eight, including Campaign Manager and Santa Clara junior Joe Salazar. Kumar said that he values Salazar’s previous experience in directing Santa Clara orientation as a leader this past summer.
“He’s someone who really champions on those values of community bonding and membership,” Kumar said. The campaign is currently looking to fill the positions of finance coordinator and volunteer coordinator.
Kumar has big dreams besides being on the Santa Clara city council. Kumar has always been interested in flying and aviation spotting. His hope of becoming a pilot may have to take the backseat while he runs for city council.
Although he is running a nonpartisan campaign, Kumar identifies as a Democrat.
The only pushback Kumar has experienced thus far has been from the existing city council itself. According to Kumar, he gave a speech during which the current city council laughed and booed for the speech’s entirety.
“It’s definitely not what you would think of elected officials,” Kumar said.
Despite the negative setbacks from his experience in front of the city council, Kumar has received encouragement from one assembly member—Paul Fong. Fong has been highly influential to Kumar’s campaign.
“Paul Fong is someone who is really a community leader and activist, who really changed my mind about how I see politicians,” Kumar said.
Aligning with his campaign of increased youth mobilization in politics, Kumar said he hopes Santa Clara students will take to the polls and vote not just when he’s on the ballot in 2020, but for all political elections in general.
“It’s your one major civic duty,” Kumar said. “A lot of people talk about how they’re frustrated with politics, but they don’t realize the power lies in their hands to change their community.”
Contact Meghan McLaughlin at firstname.lastname@example.org or call (408) 554-4852.