Happy Valley candidate hopes to make city, Oregon history
Ana Sarish said she was conflicted about running against appointee David Emami for a Happy Valley City Council seat, but she decided just before the deadline to file for the election and give voters a choice.
"I share David's vision for an inclusive community, of being a role model motivating children from all walks of life to service," Sarish said.
Sarish and Emami were finalist candidates for appointment in 2019. If elected, Sarish would become the first Indian-American councilor in Happy Valley and the second such councilor in the state.
Sarish, a senior adviser for Sunrise Mortgage Group, volunteers for the city's Budget Committee and Traffic & Public Safety Committee. She is also a PTO member.
Sarish said that running for office was an organic development that came out of her life experience. Born in India, she was adopted at age 9 by her aunt and uncle, G.S. "Frank" and Mary Tiwari of Woodburn, Oregon. Her adoptive father was the public works director for Woodburn for 40 years, and her adoptive mother was involved in teaching and volunteering in the city's schools.
"My parents were very encouraging of my becoming involved in our community, as they both have a deep history in public service," Sarish said. "Growing up I listened to them discuss the city's infrastructure and parks at the dinner table, and my dad would share his experiences regarding our city council meetings."
In her 20 years as a Happy Valley resident, Sarish has become actively involved in the business community and city advisory committees.
"I've always chosen service — in my profession and in our choice to move to Happy Valley and bring three generations of our family here," she said. "I knew this was a place where we could become involved, where we could be of service and feel a part of a community ... Running for this seat is taking the next step in that progression and I just felt now was the time."
Growing up vegetarian in a family of Indian-Americans, Sarish feels the added pressure of society becoming more polarized.
"Politics of all-or-nothing literally have portions of society coming to a standstill, as individuals freeze where they are and stop walking toward others, toward our common needs and ground," she said.
Sarish recognizes that COVID-19 and the wildfires have been game-changers that challenge us to make personal sacrifice for greater public health in ways that are unprecedented and feel strange.
"I hear how hard the closure of schools and businesses have been, how much we miss the community events and sports or even catching up with friends over a beer at Growlers," she said. "It has also focused attention on resource allocation, the vulnerability of supply and demand in the face of natural disaster and public health and equity."
If elected to city council, Sarish pledged to bring her experience in collaborating with disparate groups to find common ground.
"In the conversations I am engaged in — at the Business Alliance, at the county chamber and among neighbors — what I hear is a growing awareness of the impact development will have on Happy Valley," she said. Her priorities if elected include "maintaining a positive balance of family, business and government as we manage growth; listening and soliciting community input in decision making; specifically, a focus on parks, housing and business growth that serves the community."
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