By Anil Ahuja
LEXINGTON, MA–March 5, 2018, will be remembered by many Indian-American candidates in Lexington, MA, as one of the coldest days of the year (although it clearly was not).
With snow on the ground in the early morning hours, many of the candidates were at the polling booths at 7 a.m. to campaign for the early morning voters. The temperatures hovered around 34 degrees but with the wind chill, it was not a good day for campaigning. They came with thick jackets and gloves, snow pants, winter shoes, and wool caps. It was going to be a long day!
Three out of eleven candidates ran uncontested. There were eight positions that were contested and four newcomers who were part of this group. The voter turnout was low as this is not a major election year but the loyal voter base still weathered the cold to make their voice heard. Overall, nine percent of the population voted.
The polling booths closed at 8 p.m. Many of us, tired, hungry, with aching backs, anxiously awaited the results. It was almost a clean sweep with 10 out of 11 candidates being elected as Town Meeting Members (TMM’s) for 3 years, and one not making the cut by 4 votes.
Sandhya Beebee, a newcomer from Precinct 1, beat all the incumbents by garnering the most number of votes in her precinct. Amit Srivastava (Precinct 3) won by the skin of his teeth, winning by 1 vote for last position available. Jyotsna Kakullavarapu lost by 4 votes in Precinct 5, but has promised to be back next year. Deepika Sawhney (Precinct 6) captured the most votes of all contestants in her precinct and also was elected to the School Committee.
On speaking with the newcomers, they were extremely thankful for the seminar organized by IAL-GIG (Getting Involved Group) as it covered the entire process that the candidates needed to follow to run a viable campaign.
This seminar was also attended by several people from other towns in Massachusetts. Although Sandhya did not attend the seminar, I was truly impressed by the way she had organized her campaign, having volunteers hold her signs for an hour each (and she had plenty of volunteers).
Currently, Indians in Lexington constitute about 5% of the population but have 18 Town Meeting Members out of a total of 189, constituting 9.5% of all TMM’s.
(Anil Ahuja was recently reelected as Town Meeting Member from Precinct 5 in Lexington, MA. He has been on the Town Executive Committee for the past two years. He is on the Organizing Committee of the Indian Americans of Lexington (IAL) and also “Festival of Colors”. Ahuja and his wife Lata, along with their 2 kids, Rahul (sophomore at Carnegie Mellon University) and Anika (8th grader at Clarke), have lived in Lexington since 2006. He has a Bachelor’s degree in Accounting, an MBA in Information Systems, and an MS in Computer Information Systems. He is an avid Chess player. Anil works for a money management firm and is interested in ensuring that taxpayer money is utilized effectively while keeping taxpayer burden at a minimum.)