What it takes for an Indian to fight elections in the US

“I was accosted twice during the campaign and with potential bodily harm”, says Preeti Shridhar, who ran for office twice in recent years in the US local elections.

A senior public official and community leader in the Seattle area, Preeti Shridhar explains the unique American system where a whole bunch of top public offices in law enforcement like the prosecutor, attorney general as well as offices which oversee spending of public funds for rendering various public services are the ones to which people are elected to. This is in addition to legislators, Mayors, and Governors.

In 2017 when she ran for office, seven other women of South Asian origins also ran for different offices in the Seattle area alone. This was also the year Senator Kamala Harris, Representative Pramila Jayapal, and Representative Raja Krishnamoorthi were elected. 

This is especially interesting since the first Indian-American elected to the United States Congress was Dalip Singh Saund in the late 1950s and early 60s. However, for the next 50 years or so one did not see people of Indian origin holding elected office in the US. 

In recent years there has been a burst of political awareness and activity among the Indian community in the US. What has changed now that we see their emergence in US politics, judiciary and in the government? Preeti Shridhar answers this question along with explaining why she herself ran for office in the Seattle area and how easy or difficult it was for her to raise money and run a campaign as an immigrant, a naturalised American and a woman of colour.

Apart from her public service experience of over 25 years in the US, she collaborated with Vice President Al Gore on his climate initiative and wrote a chapter in Marketing Guru Philip Kotler’s book.

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