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Rajan Withdraws from City Council Race

Update: Mayor Pro Tem Kish Rajan takes job as director of the Governor's Office of Business and Economic Development, says he won't be able to dedicate time, attention to council job.

Updated, 5:15 p.m. quote from Kish Rajan; 3:45 p.m. Tuesday, text of Rajan's statement.

Mayor Pro Tem Kish Rajan threw his hat out of Tuesday with the announcement of his appointment to a state government post.

Rajan, 42, will be the first director of the Governor's Office of Business and Economic Development, which goes by the flashy name of GO-Biz.

In an announcement sent to friends and political supporters, Rajan said he would end his campaign for re-election: "Having served a full term on City Council, I am very aware of the rigors of that job. Given the demands of the new role I will be assuming, I have concluded that I would not be able to dedicate the time and attention necessary to be a fully contributing City Council Member."

In a telephone interview Tuesday, Rajan said he would bring a local policy maker's perspective to state government's efforts in business development. "What I've learned as a council member is that creating public policy is intentionally a kind of methodical and deliberate process," he said. "It's a process that also is about trying to accommodate and serve the broadest population and have the broadest impact possible. That's often at odds with business objectives. Business is driven by efficiency, speed and being the first to market. It's always about results.

"What I've learned is that a lot of times that means people involved in business and people in public policy are speaking different languages and bringing different energies. By my experience of being a policy maker, it allows me to look for the opportunities to be a translator of business objectives and public policy objectives."

4 running for 3

Rajan's withdrawal leaves four candidates — only one an incumbent (Bob Simmons) — running for three seats in Walnut Creek. The others are Justin Wedel, Loella Haskew and Barry Grove. Rajan said he would not endorse one of the other candidates in the race.

Gov. Jerry Brown announced Rajan's appointment Tuesday at a meeting of the Bay Area Council in Redwood City. During the meeting, the governor signed legislation creating GO-Biz. Assembly Speaker John Perez said GO-Biz will offer a "one-stop shop" for California businesses wanting to foster relationships with overseas businesses and organizations.

"Mr. Rajan will work closely with the Governor’s Senior Jobs Advisor Mike Rossi to lead the executive team in streamlining services for business leaders and enhancing job creation, economic development and international trade statewide," stated a news release from the governor's office.

Rajan, a Walnut Creek council member since 2008, has been principal of Kish Rajan Public Affairs since 2010 and before that the director of mobile sales at SanDisk Corp. from 2007 to 2010.

Rajan told the Contra Costa Times he planned to finish his current term, which ends in December. While his name will remain on the City Council ballot, Rajan said he would work to inform Walnut Creek voters that there are other candidates and discourage them from voting for him.

The state position does not require Senate confirmation. It carries a salary of $136,152. Rajan is a Democrat.

The following comes from Rajan's email to supporters:

I am deeply humbled, grateful and excited to announce that Governor Jerry Brown has appointed me to be the Director of the Governor’s Office of Business and Economic Development.

By appointing me to this post, the Governor is challenging me to summon the full complement of my business and public policy experience to help him in his mission to grow California’s economy, create jobs and generate the resources we need to improve California’s financial condition. As a lifelong Californian, I believe deeply in our resources and capacity to lead the country and the world in innovation, entrepreneurship, business expansion and the creation of broad based employment for California’s people.

After serious reflection, I am ending my campaign for reelection to the Walnut Creek City Council. Having served a full term on City Council, I am very aware of the rigors of that job. Given the demands of the new role I will be assuming, I have concluded that I would not be able to dedicate the time and attention necessary to be a fully contributing City Council Member. As much as I enjoy serving on City Council, I care too much about the future of Walnut Creek to occupy a critical leadership role that I could not adequately fulfill.

Because of the timing of this announcement, my name will still appear on the election ballot. While I am grateful that you may have considered voting for me, I would urge you to examine the other candidates in the field and choose from among them. I am confident that you the voters will make another solid decision in this instance.

Walnut Creek is my hometown and where our family will continue to call home. I have always sought to serve our community in a way that honors our past, preserves our quality of life, and seeks to build an even brighter future. I will forever be grateful for the opportunity you gave to me to serve locally. Now I will be building on that opportunity in an effort to serve our state as well. But my heart will always be where my home is. On behalf of my entire family, thank you.

Bay City News Service contributed to this report.

WC-Independent September 11, 2012 at 10:25 PM
That's a loss to the city, seemed like a sharp guy.
michael frederick September 13, 2012 at 08:10 AM
Thank you, Kish. I particularly appreciate you leaving with the statement, above: "It's a process that also is about trying to accommodate and serve the broadest population and have the broadest impact possible. That's often at odds with business objectives." Simply, allowing the Chamber of Commerce to train leaders, buy elections, install Commissioners, and generally dominate public discourse to the exclusion of all other considerations DOES NOT prioritize General Public welfare -- it subverts it. As with virtually everyone else on this planet, I don't agree with you on everything. Those differences are relatively minor. The major point is, in a very commercially corrupt and biased political environment, I think you tried to shade the proceedings toward improving the General Public welfare and the credibility of your office. You reached out to communicate with the public, openly and honestly, here on Patch. You didn't pull your intellectual panties down around your ankles for commercial promotion du jour -- at the expense of your office and city -- as so many others routinely do. In short, you served Walnut Creek honorably and well. Good luck.
Ralph Hoffmann September 21, 2012 at 09:57 PM
Kish Rajan's name will still be on the November 6 ballot. As a tribute and "Thank you" to Kish, I have endorsed him for re-election. Things can change between now and November, and Kish continues to serve on our Council. My second endorsement is Mayor Bob Simmons, a voice of experience. See his listing on the non-partisan League of Women Voters website, http://www.smartvoter.org .

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