The Dublin Unified School District (DUSD) board has chosen Niranjana “Nini” Natarajan for a two-year appointment to the board.
Natarajan will fill the remainder of a four-year term for a seat vacated by Joe Giannini, who resigned in October. Giannini cited a long commute that conflicted with some of his board duties. Board work also limited time with his family.
Natarajan will be eligible to run for the next full term, which begins with the 2020 election. She lives in what then will be area 4. In that year, DUSD will be completing its change to district elections in all five areas.
The first stage of the transition occurred in the 2018 election, when board Vice-president Dan Cherrier was re-elected to the board in what is now area 5, and trustee Megan Rouse was re-elected in what is now area 2. Areas 1 and 3 will join area 4 on the 2020 ballot.
Natarajan was one of two candidates interviewed publicly at the board’s Dec. 11 regular meeting. The other was Gabrielle Blackman, an unsuccessful board candidate in the 2016 election.
Natarajan, a four-year resident of Dublin, sends her two daughters to Cottonwood Creek Elementary School. She and her husband, who works in the tech industry, immigrated from India. She earned the equivalent of a CPA in India, and is Head of Finance for a start-up in San Mateo. Natarajan became a U.S. citizen in 2013.
Trustees chose Natarajan on a 3-1 vote after a 2½ hour process that included audience comments, board questions for candidates, and deliberations. Board President Amy Miller and trustees Dan Cunningham and Megan Rouse voted for Natarajan. Cherrier voted “no” on the motion by Cunningham.
Cherrier said he thought both candidates were qualified. However, he preferred Blackman, a 13-year Dublin resident, for her school volunteerism, and membership on the district committee that deliberated on the site for the district’s second high school.
Miller said that she voted for Natarajan because in the interview, she put the emphasis on building relationships, which are necessary to accomplish things, whether dealing with parents or board members.
“What stood out to me is that you actually said, ‘Love our kids’, and you talked about that a lot, like you have that connection, and it’s not just intellectual and high level, but there is an emotional piece to it, too.”
Rouse said that as a relative newcomer, Natarajan can bring fresh information to the board. She lives in East Dublin, where many new residents have located within the past five years. “It brings a perspective as a 20-year-plus resident that I don’t have,” said Rouse.
Cunningham said that Natarajan “brings a fresh face to the board”, and with it perhaps something new.