Indian American Shruti Bhatnagar, 46, is seeking a seat on the County Council in Montgomery County, Maryland.
Out of four, there are three seats which are open and 20 candidates have already shown interest but if Bhatnagar is to be elected then she would become the first Indian-American woman to serve on the Council.
Bhatnagar is the founder of the Indian-American Democratic Club of Maryland and is running in a county where 30 percent are estimated to be Indian-American.
The county is also home to the first and longest-serving Indian-American state legislator, Kumar Barve and Aruna Miller, the first Indian-American woman elected to the House of Delegates who is currently making a bid for Congress.
Bhatnagar was born in Udaipur, Rajasthan, lived in Delhi and has been living in Montgomery County for 18 years.
“I am deeply committed to our County, its children, youth and families. I have served the community for the past 15 years, beginning with Kensington Heights Civic Association in my neighborhood and rising to leadership positions at the State, County and Local level,” she says on her website.
Bhatnagar’s father was a small business owner and her mother started her career teaching at a university and later resumed her career in public service.
“Both my parents had to work to make sure my sister and I could get quality education. They taught me the values of putting family first, good education, hard work and community service,” she added.
Although most of her education took place in India, Bhatnagar has a Bachelor’s in Economics and Political Science and a Master’s in Business Administration.
She then worked for a finance company and continued growing her career by working in the telecommunications and software development sectors with U.S. corporations based in New Delhi.
“Since moving to the U.S, I have worked at the American Red Cross, a private Montessori school and at Montgomery County Public School providing academic support to students,” she says on her website.
“As I was adapting to a new culture and building a new life away from my family, friends and land of origin, I started contributing to my local community through the Kensington Heights Civic Association,” she added saying that she always “found it rewarding to work on issues that could help improve the quality of life for all my neighbors.”
Bhatnagar now serves the broader community as an At-Large member on the executive committee of the Montgomery County Civic Federation.
Bhatnagar has been involved with many local, County and State level organizations such as the local PTA’s of Takoma Park schools, Montgomery County Council of PTA’s, Maryland PTA and is a founding member of the organization, Maryland Welcomes Refugees.
“I continue to have an impact issues in the local community through leadership of Takoma Foundation, a local chapter of Greater Washington Community Foundation, where I have been the President for two years and support public schools as the Vice Chair of the Asian Pacific American Student Action and Achievement Group,” she states.
Bhatnagar was also appointed by the County Executive to serve on the Montgomery County Commission of Children and Youth where she led the sub-committee on the Opiod epidemic and continues to work on other issues such as mental health and DACA.
Bhatnagar also mentions that she needs at least $250,000 in order to run an effective countywide campaign and has been working with Barve, Miller and other longtime Indian-American activists to build up the support.