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STUMPED: Meet City Controller Hopeful Ankur Patel

The latest in our series of user-friendly profiles on the local candidates running for public office

Photograph courtesy of Ankur Patel

On background: Patel was born and raised in Los Angeles. He graduated from UCLA with a B.S. in Ecology, Behavior, and Evolution. At 27, Patel is half the age of some of the other candidates, but he has already accumulated a broad resume. He has published a number of scientific papers demonstrating knowledge and interest in the healthcare systems, has worked as an English teacher and entrepreneur abroad, was a field biologist for the California University system, and has even refereed intramural sports in his spare time.

Election platform: Unlike most municipal candidates, Patel does not want your money. Instead of campaign donations, he asks that you help him spread the word that he is running for City Controller. If elected, he promises to hold civic engagement and education workshops that give the public answers to what the city does, how much it costs, and how much money the city takes in through taxes. His most innovative idea: a public bank account, where constituents could track the city’s money in real-time online.

Campaign slogan: “The Simple Solution: Make it Easy to Follow the Money.”

In his corner: Mayur Patel, a rocket scientist and Ankur’s father

The City Controller acts as Big Brother to the other government offices—not the most glamorous of positions. What draws you to the job?
The only way to ensure that public money is being spent efficiently is by making the public aware of how tax dollars are being spent and holding our government officials accountable. This is the job to do that. As City Controller, I’d have the opportunity to modernize public access to information regarding our city’s expenditures, and with all the digitalization today that shouldn’t be too difficult. 

This is your first time running for public office. How are you prepared to serve constituents?
I’ve been a long follower of city politics. I am a graduate student at Cal State Northridge and a board member of the Northrdige East Neighborhood council. I am not a politician, but my background is broad and I am experienced with informing the public on city politics. I was even a producer at KPFK Radio. My catchphrase was “Hello, I am Ankur Patel, and I am breaking down politics so you don’t have to.”

As of right now, you only have the endorsement of your father.
Endorsements are definitely important in some elections. Endorsements influence likely voters and are central to increasing campaign contributions; otherwise, they don’t matter. But endorsements are not my priority. I’m going after unlikely voters and I am not taking campaign contributions. If we want to get money out of politics, we have to demonstrate that elections can be won through grassroots organizing. Money doesn’t win elections, people do.

ALSO: Meet the other City Controller candidates