In Silicon Valley, Juggling College While Running for Mayor

In Silicon Valley, Juggling College While Running for Mayor

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“I love my city,” says Aziz Akbari, an 18-year-old college sophomore running to be Fremont's youngest and the city's first Indo-American Mayor. Elections will be held in November.

Akbari has lived in Fremont since the age of seven and is a product of the public education system, having attended Parkmont Elementary, Centerville Junior High and graduated from Washington High School in 2011. He is currently pursuing a Bachelor of Science degree at the University of Southern California, where he is majoring in Mechanical Engineering, minoring in Computer Science, and is on the Pre-Law track.

Akbari says the challenges within the City of Fremont over the past eight years have stemmed from a lack of vision and strategy, which left the city unprepared for the recession, while the recovery has been even worse. “Other candidates and council members have been on the council for years,” Akbari says. “I don’t feel like they’ve delivered. They give great talks each year, but they’re not delivering, and I think Fremont needs a new face. I have the skills and know-how to get things done.”

Why are you running for Mayor?

For the last several years, I have been following the state of affairs in Fremont. The city has lapsed significantly, while the rest of Silicon Valley has prospered during the same time. This is the result of the city's poor strategy, bad policies and a lack of leadership. I see great potential for Fremont to become the shining star of Silicon Valley. Fremont is a great location for residences, corporations, shopping, recreation, entertainment and dining. Unfortunately, not only has the city failed to attract new businesses, it has been unable to retain many that were already based here.

I think I can make a difference in the administration of Fremont. I have a vision and strategy to transform the city into a prosperous, clean, convenient, safe and beautiful place to live, work, eat, play, entertain and learn. I don't like to sit back and complain. I will do my part to help Fremont realize it's true potential. As mayor, I will set the vision and drive alignment of the strategies and execution plan to transform Fremont.

What are some issues you will be focusing on and how do you hope to enact change?

As I mentioned before, not only are new businesses not moving into Fremont, the ones that are here are dwindling, [moving] out to more friendly cities. We have a high concentration of highly skilled and technically talented people living here in Fremont. But they work elsewhere on the peninsula. What's up with that?

We need better fiscal management. We need to spend the city's money wisely. How did we afford millions of dollars to build a half baked water park that has no ROI (return on investment) in sight? That too while the city was going through a crunch. The money could have been better spent on improving services, augmenting school and library budgets.

As Mayor, I will drive more creativity and innovation in formulating the city's policies and in generating new revenue streams. I will collaborate with city council and various agencies and work with business leaders to attract businesses to set up shop here in Fremont. I will bring in more jobs and tax revenue to the city. I will make sure the funds are spent wisely in meeting the real needs of the residents.

I also want to focus on preserving the historic districts of Fremont. Growing up in the Niles district, I know how much passion people have for the history of Fremont. Lately, however, they have felt that they have been ignored by the city council, and that their districts are being overdeveloped. We need to work with the communities of these districts and make sure that they know that we will preserve the historical sites of Fremont. I have already reached out to the leaders of organizations responsible for maintaining and preserving these districts.

What do you think makes you stand out among the candidates in the election?

I have a vision that can be practically realized through sound strategy and an effective execution plan. I do not have preconceived alliances and as such will not be influenced by anyone.I will not hesitate to call out the elephant in the room.

Running for mayor at the age of 18, how do you intend on pursuing both your education and the mayoral elections?

During this semester, I am taking 17 units but have class only from Monday through Thursday. I will be coming home every weekend to work on the campaign by going door to door, handing out flyers, going to speak at events around the city, and making sure that our campaign staff are making good progress. If I do win, I plan on transferring to a school here so that I can commute from home and go to school while still managing the responsibilities and duties of mayor.