Sabina Zafar to become first woman of color on San Ramon City Council

Voters also vote for continuity by re-electing Clarkson and Hudson

While San Ramon voters may have overall cast their ballots in favor of continuity -- re-electing both incumbents to two of the three available seats -- local history has been made as Sabina Zafar will become the first woman of color elected to serve on the City Council.

Newcomer Zafar, who was born in Pakistan, will be joined on the council by the San Ramon’s longest serving elected official, Dave Hudson, who finished first on Election Night. Mayor Bill Clarkson also won his fourth consecutive term as the city’s top elected official.

With 100% of the precincts reporting as of early Wednesday morning, Hudson led the way with 37.03% of the vote, followed by Zafar, former member of the city’s Transportation Advisory Committee and 2016 council candidate, who earned the second available seat with 26.87% of votes.

The pair defeated San Ramon parks commissioner Sridhar Verose, who was in the third spot with 18.53%, and Aparna Madireddi, a small business and community volunteer, who rounded out the ballot with 17.57% of Election Night results.

There are still ballots left to count, namely provisionals and final-day vote-by-mail, but the Election Night results represent the bulk of ballots cast, the margins are too significant for the challengers to overcome.

Zafar will essentially be taking the seat of departing Councilman Harry Sachs, who decided to not run for re-election.

“We've ran a great campaign, it feels amazing but it comes with a great responsibility to the city. Right now I am just enjoying the moment,” Zafar said after winning. “Running a grassroots campaign and having so many people come together along the way has been so rewarding.”

While campaigning Zafar stated her key priorities would be, the promotion of local business, reducing traffic congestion through upgrades to existing infrastructure, and perhaps her most vocal objective, open space preservation.

Zafar also took time to mention the impact her election means in terms of representation for the San Ramon community.

“Defying so many barriers and breaking so many barriers being on council is rewarding,” Zafar said. “We haven't had a woman on council for eight years in San Ramon, we haven't ever had a woman of color, or of southeast Asian background.”

Zafar also is the first person of color to serve on the council since former mayor H. Abram Wilson’s final year at the position in 2011, City Clerk Renee Beck confirmed to

And she was one of five American Muslims to win local elected office across the Bay Area this week, according to the Council on American Islamic Relations.

Zafar’s ascension to the council would seem to reflect the changing demographics seen in San Ramon, specifically representing its large Asian American population, which as of 2017 comprises 42% of the city’s population, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

“She has worked extremely hard... I mean I think she started to work right after the last election. I'm happy for her,” Hudson said of his new colleague, adding that one of his priorities will be mentoring her for success. “There’s a learning curve and we want to step back and make sure that everyone is on the same page and treated equally. and that they have the opportunity to get the information (they need).”

When asked about his feelings about his own victory, Hudson said it still hasn't sunk in yet.

“I think I've been doing it for too long,” he laughed. “You just do what your supposed to do and they count the votes. We still have a lot more work to do and this was one of the things that you have to do to keep going.”

A well-known name to San Ramon residents, Hudson has served in the position for 21 years, including tenures as its mayor and vice mayor.

While campaigning Hudson maintained that under his stewardship the city continues to move in a positive direction. Further stating he will continue the city’s positive trend by maintaining his priorities of public safety, fiscal responsibility and government transparency.

After Election Night, Hudson took some time to praise Mayor Clarkson and the difficult job he continues to succeed in.

“I don't think people are up for having someone you don't know anything about run City Council meetings,” Hudson said, referring to Clarkson’s opponent, Sanat Sethy. “It’s not as easy as it looks trust me. (The job) takes a little more than just hoping and wanting to do good, you need a little more experience before you jump into battle.”

Clarkson dominated the polls in his quest for a fourth and final term as mayor, achieving a large lead early on that he did not relinquish. Clarkson maintained 75.97% of the vote, while political newcomer and engineer Sethy, trailed at a distant second holding 24.03% of election night results.

“The initial results does seem to give us a pretty good sense that it is going in our direction, and I think it really is a validation from residents that the city is going in the right direction,” Clarkson said after preliminary results placed him far ahead of his opponent. “I will not forget all of the encouragement and support I received from all of my supporters and I will always appreciate that for all of my life.”

The unofficial election results include early vote-by-mail tallies and totals reported by the precincts on Election Night. The election figures will likely change in the coming days as final vote-by-mail ballots, provisional ballots and other qualifying ballots are processed, according to the California Secretary of State.

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14 people like this
Posted by TL Nelson
a resident of Danville
on Nov 7, 2018 at 11:45 pm

This is a very racist headline. What reporter Ryan Degan does not understand is that every human being in the world is a person of color. The coloration of human skin is due to a brown pigment. Some people have more, some have less. Every human is a different shade of brown all the way from buff to dark chocolate. What difference does it make what color someone's skin is or what gender they are? The insistence of people like Ryan to classify people by their skin color or gender is one of the reasons we live in such a divided country today. Why not just report on the person's character and personal qualities? Skin color and gender should be irrelevant.

4 people like this
Posted by :P
a resident of San Ramon
on Nov 8, 2018 at 12:48 am

t l nelson, although i agree that the coloration of a persons skin should be considered an arbitrary trait, the fact of the matter is that it is not. you cannot ignore that since the beginning of society, limits have been placed on people based on gender and skin tone, regardless of their personal attributes. the reason that sabina’s achievements are significant is that she has transcended the long-standing impact of historical limitations on muslim women of color. although measures have been taken against the discrimination that has plagued the united states since its birth, it takes more than enfranchisement and equal rights to reverse an eternity of inequality. racism and sexism were woven into the very fabric of this country. it takes strength and determination to uproot a tree planted hundreds of years ago. furthermore, sabina’s brownness and femaleness are apart of her identity. the world views and treats her differently than it does a white man, giving her a perspective very different from the ones of her new colleagues. i agree with you that acknowledging a candidates’s race and gender before their policies perpetuates the divide that exists in the united states. however, the goal of this reporter was to bring attention to the fact that by entering its council, sabina has helped san ramon take a monumental step towards alleviating the misrepresentation of its population in its government. the point of view that she will bring to the table will be shaped by her experience as a woman of color in america—an experience that the other council members simply could not have had. maybe one day skin color will be irrelevant, but today, against the will of myself and other muslim women of color, it is not.

42 people like this
Posted by Resident
a resident of San Ramon
on Nov 8, 2018 at 3:20 pm

Congratulations Sabina, you worked hard to get elected.

The writer of the article is probably an understudy hoping to move on up to the Washington Post or Chronicle.

It would be very educational to the electorate in S.R. if the amount Hudson spent on being re-elected was made public & who were his campaign donors. The large multi-page in color brochure he mailed out just before the election would have cost many thousands of dollars. I'm sure all that money came from small donations from the "fired up" electorate here in S.R. that were wildly enthusiastic for Hudson.

2 people like this
Posted by RozRogoff2
a resident of San Ramon
on Nov 11, 2018 at 6:32 pm

RozRogoff2 is a registered user.


I voted for Mr. Hudson. He's been on the City Council for years and is highly respected. He has many supporters who contributed to his reelection. So don't be so quick to make accusations you cannot prove!

Roz Rogoff
formerly "The San Ramon Observer"

6 people like this
Posted by Dave Hudson
a resident of San Ramon
on Nov 12, 2018 at 6:33 pm

Actually, I liked the flyer so much I put in a lot of my own money to pay for it. I did a terrible job raising money in this election and only did two flyers. As usual I did a lot of walking and talking to as many neighborhoods as time would allow. I am currently on several boards and that took up a lot of time or I would have doubled that effort. Walking Derby Drive on Sunday before the election was not my brightest idea. If you check the 460s you will see that I raised the least amount of money in this election excluding what I put in. Go back and look at the old Measure W race if you want to see big contributions. All the candidates deserve credit this year including the top vote getters. Now the real work starts.

5 people like this
Posted by Dickita P
a resident of Alamo
on Nov 16, 2018 at 11:12 am

I'd like to offer my condolences to TL Nelson's family - how they manage to put up with a brain as degraded as that is beyond me.

Like this comment
Posted by Dawod
a resident of Greenbrook Elementary School
on Nov 19, 2018 at 11:33 pm

Your work is very good and I appreciate you and hopping for some more informative posts

Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.

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