Aziz Akbari is not your typical college student. While most college students spend their summers visiting with family and friends, 18-year old Akbari spent his summer entering Fremont’s mayoral race and has simultaneously ﬁnished summer courses at San Jose State.
Excelling in math and science, the engineer major is now turning his sites on politics. The sophomore student appears shy at ﬁrst with his soft voice and calm disposition, but becomes alive when speaking about politics.
Having completed his freshman year at University of Southern California (USC), majoring in mechanical engineering, minoring in computer science and pursuing pre-law, Akbari says he would move back to Fremont if he were elected mayor, where he would then ﬁnish his degree at nearby UC Berkeley or Stanford University.
Akbari has recently moved back to Los Angeles, where he has started his fall semester. To maintain his running position, he said, “I’ll be spending three and a half days at USC. Monday through Thursday, and Thursday evenings I’ll be ﬂying back and doing the campaign Friday, Saturday and Sunday.”
The well-organized and industrious student has been keeping his head in the political arena by following local politics on television, watching the news and city council meetings regularly. Akbari says it helped him develop a deep passion for change in his local town.
“I’ve always been paying attention to what’s been going on,” said Akbari. “I liked politics, but I never planned on doing it full-time. I thought I’d be informed on what’s going on and things like that, so I’ve worked loosely with some campaigns. I worked with Pete Stark a little bit and his campaign back when I was in the eigth-grade.”
Akbari’s former honors English teacher, Aliza Selinger said his interest for politics sprouted at an early age.
“Even as early as ninth-grade, Aziz was interested in politics, justice and the desire to pave the right way,” said Selinger. “He was always insightful, conscientious, compassionate and extremely bright. And if any young individual can chase down such a prestigious position, Aziz can.”
The teenager explains it is important to have a young presence in city government.
“I think it’s important to have that,” he said. “Because a lot of young people feel that older people don’t listen to them. And you have a young person step out into the ﬁeld of politics and you feel that you have a friend there.”
The newcomer was the ﬁfth candidate to enter the race and says he did so due to the lack of response from current city officials.
“They’re very set in their ways, they always go for these weird and crazy ideas that never pan through. They don’t pay attention to what Fremont citizens actually want.” Akbari stated.
Speciﬁcally, he refers to Fremont’s water park, Aqua Adventure, which is only open for two months out of the year. The water park sits on a controversial location close to Fremont’s Lake Elizabeth, which is a breeding ground for birds, particularly for egrets.
Akbari attributes his candidacy to Ishan Shah, a former 17-year-old candidate who ran for Fremont’s City Council. “I saw this opportunity and thought I’d take it,” said the aspiring candidate about his decision to run for office.
If elected, the young man believes his fresh face and innovative ideas would help move Fremont forward into a sustainable, educated and business-friendly environment. Akbari says he would ﬁrst like to accomplish a business model that would attract and retain businesses locally.
Charismatic, genuine and unseasoned, the intuitive candidate has gained the support of many and within two weeks of starting has developed a campaign strategy most novice candidates do not possess.
Explaining his structured campaign, Akbari says, “I have managers for different things. I have a PR manager, I have a Webmaster, I have an iPhone app developer,” and the volunteer list goes on. He says social media is his target, hopefully being able to gain support using technology.
Originally from Smithtown, New York, Akbari moved to a couple of cities before landing in Fremont at the age of seven. The move to Fremont was due to his father’s job as a Google industrial engineer. His mother owns her own accounting company doing consulting work for others.
“At ﬁrst they were shocked, to say the least,” said Akbari about his Indian immigrant parents’ thoughts on his run for candidacy. He explains his parents were originally skeptical and wanted Akbari to keep his focus on education. “But then, I started to explain to them what I wanted to do and now they are in full support of it,” he said enthusiastically.
Education being one of his top priorities, Akbari says he would work relentlessly to gain funds for education. He plans to do this by collaboratively working with state and city officials, alongside the community to generate more funding for updated technology software to Fremont’s Schools.
“For what I know of Aziz,” said Jai Musunuri, Akbari’s public relations manager and USC classmate, “he is really interested in politics, things of that sort and he seems to have really good ideas of what he wants to see changed in Fremont. He’s gone through the school system, and I think that gives him a really good perspective of what he needs to change there. I think he’s really enthusiastic about changing his hometown.”
Other than possessing desires of becoming Fremont’s new mayor, Akbari said he wishes to get into mechanical engineering for the automotive industry. Akbari is working towards a dream job of designing and manufacturing cars for Tesla. He says having a job for a company locally based in Fremont would be a dream and joked that owning a Tesla Model S would be unbelievable.
Akbari is registered as an Independent, saying he does not want to “adhere to party limitations.” He would be the youngest and ﬁrst Indo-American to hold a mayoral position in Fremont and is currently running against former councilmembers Bill Harris and Anu Natarajan, alongside self-employed software consultant Steve Cho.
“Aziz is an amazing young man,” explained Akbari’s former honors geometry teacher, Ludmila Nikolaeva. “When I heard about his stepping into the mayoral race for Fremont, my ﬁrst thought was ‘this is the best news I have heard of in years!’ Aziz is extremely talented in the area of math and science, which gives him the advantage of a logical and fast mind.”
This entry was published in The Pioneer Online on Thursday, August 30th, 2012 at 11:48 am.