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Six South Asian-Americans Running for Political Offices

2020 Election season is here and with Presidential Caucus over, the Southern Nevadans are getting ready to hear from the 380 candidates, including six members from the growing South Asian community, who have filed for over 100 elected offices.  The 2020 primary season has brought an unprecedented enthusiasm from the five Indian Americans and one Pakistani American candidate.  Most of the candidates have hit the campaign trail before the COVID-19, with campaign signs, phone banking, and door-to-door voter contact.  All the candidates have one thing in common – lack of campaign donations.  The traditional community political donors have shut a door on all the Indian/Pakistani American candidates, however, the same donors are donating copious amounts of other candidates.  All the candidates are funding their campaigns with their own funds and donations from family members and close non-political friends. Nevada’s closed primary election is scheduled on Tuesday, June 9th with early voting starts on May 23rd through June 5th, 2020.

The following members of the South Asian community are running in the upcoming 2020 elections.

FAYYAZ RAJA

Fayyaz Raja – Former Vice-Chairman of the Clark County Democratic Party, Fayyaz Raja is running for an open seat Clark County Commission District C.  The current incumbent Larry Brown is termed out.  The open seat has attracted 7 Democrats, and 1 Republican Las Vegas City Councilman Stavros Anthony.  Raja is a 40 year resident of Las Vegas and has been active in the Southern Nevada’s burgeoning South Asian community.  Raja has previously served as Chair of the Asian American Pacific Islanders Democratic Caucus and is currently is President of the South Asian Political Network Alliance, a non-partisan PAC.  Raja a graduate of the UNLV College of Hotel Management has worked in the Food and Beverage departments of major hotels on the strip.  Currently, Raja is self-employed as an independent insurance broker.  

Deepen Kothari – Deepen Kothari is running for an open seat Clark County Commission District D.  Not much information is available on the candidate Kothari.  There are 10 candidates in the race of which 7 are Democrats and 3 with no party affiliation.  No Republican is contesting from the Commission District D.

RADHIKA POCHAMPALLY KUNNELL

Radhika Pochampally – Kunnell Three years resident Democrat Radhika Kunnell is running for the Nevada State Assembly District 2.  The open AD2 seat has attracted 10 candidates – 5 Republicans, 4 Democrats and 1 Non-Partisan.  The District which covers most of the Summerlin neighborhoods has over 40,950 active registered voters with 15,100 Republicans,  14,400 Democrats and the rest of them are Non-Partisans and smaller parties.  Kunnell, originally from Hyderabad, India has a Ph.D. in Cancer Biology and completed a Post-Doc in Regenerative Medicine.  Kunnell is focusing on issues related to health care, renewal energy, education, affordable housing, and jobs.  

Syed Zaidi – The former active Democrat, Syed Zaidi, is a 25-year plus resident of Las Vegas.  Originally from Mumbai, India, Zaidi is running for the Nevada State Assembly District 42 against a Democrat incumbent and a Libertarian. Zaidi is running as an independent candidate not affiliated with any political party. Zaidi is the owner of a newly opened Indian Al Madina Restaurant

SWADEEP NIGAM

Swadeep Nigam – Former Treasurer of the Clark County Republican Party, Swadeep Nigam, is running for an open non-partisan seat of Regent, State University District 3 There are 4 candidates in the race which covers over 140,000 active registered voters, majority of them Democrats.  Nigam has been active in the local social and political scene for over 30 years and had many leadership political positions in the past.  Nigam was a national delegate from Nevada to the 2008 Republican convention.  Previously, Nigam was the Commissioner on the Nevada Equal Rights Commission,  Board Member & Treasurer of the Las Vegas NAACP, Board Member of Asian Kiwanis, President, South Asian Political Network Alliance, and many other local civic & political organizations.  Currently, he is serving on the Nevada State Board of Osteopathic Medicine.  Nigam is the Business Development Director and Strategic Initiatives for Paul Padda Law and is actively involved in many judicial and non-judicial races during the current election cycle. For the past 10 years, Nigam has funded a scholarship for the graduating Clark County high school seniors through Nevada Policy Research Institute, a local think tank.

Anand Nair

Anand Nair –  Anand, a registered Democrat, is a 20-year resident of Las Vegas is running for an open seat of Trustee, Clark County School District A.  The nonpartisan race has attracted eight candidates with diverse backgrounds.  With a background in Finance, Nair is currently working as a Wealth Management Advisor & Managing Director at WestPac Wealth Partners.  With interest in public service, Governor Sisolak appointed Nair to the Board of the Nevada Corporate Investment Trust.  Previously, Nair has served on the Board of the Southern Nevada Housing Authority.

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