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Meet Iranian-American Shiva Farivar: Candidate for Irvine City Council

Source: Public Affairs Alliance of Iranian Americans (PAAIA)


Shiva Farivar

"She is bright, creative, and committed to serving the best interests of all Irvine citizens...that's why she has my full support." This was the ringing endorsement of Shiva Farivar by two-time mayor and current City of Irvine council member Beth Krom on May 28th. Farivar, an Iranian American, is seeking election to one of two expiring seats on Irvine's four member city council. 

Farivar, who currently serves as the Chair of the Irvine Community Services Commission, has been a resident of Irvine for the past 15 years. Having immigrated to the United States in 1978 to pursue her studies, she settled in Irvine in 1994 after receiving her master's degree from the University of California, Irvine.

Farivar entered public service in 2005 when she became executive assistant to then Mayor of Irvine, Beth Krom, serving mainly as the community liaison to educational institutions. According to Farivar, the most important issues facing Irvine today include public safety, energy conservation, excellence in education, and maintaining a balance between growth and a sense of community.

The election will be held on November 2, 2010, with voters casting ballots for the office of the mayor and two expiring city council seats. Farivar is confident that she is up to the challenge and looks "forward to engaging people throughout the City of Irvine, discussing the important issues on people's minds and sharing my ideas with them."

Recently, PAAIA and its connected PAC, the Iranian American Political Action Committee, had the opportunity to sit down with Shiva Farivar and discuss her campaign for Irvine City Council.

PAAIA/IAPAC: Tell us a little about yourself.

FARIVAR: I was born in Iran, but spent most of my childhood in Germany. I came to the United States in 1978 to pursue my higher education. I graduated from UCSD with a Bachelor's degree in Political Science and German Literature, and I received my Master's degree in German Literature from UCI. I spent over eight years in the Banking Industry, and after that I stayed "at home" to raise my children. I have a son and a daughter, and I was always very involved in their schools. About seven years ago, I started to get politically involved on different levels. I was among the founders of an organization for Iranian American Democrats, started to volunteer for political campaigns, and became very active in the community. In 2005, I became the Mayor's Executive Assistant, and served as her liaison to mostly educational institutions. The Mayor then appointed me to the Community Services Commission, which I have chaired for the past two years. Last year, I joined the Irvine Valley College Board of Foundation. A few months ago, Iranian parents here in Irvine decided to form an Iranian Parent Association, and I was elected to their board. My interests and passion have always been in politics and education, and I hope to build on that passion in the role of a Council member.

PAAIA/IAPAC: Why are you running for public office?

FARIVAR: I am a strong believer in public service. I have always volunteered in different capacities and on different levels. At this stage of my life, I am in a position to take that belief to a higher level and serve the residents of Irvine on the Council. I believe in the very simple principle of representation, and I would like to be the voice for people of different backgrounds, beliefs, and ages.

PAAIA/IAPAC: What are some of the challenges you believe your campaign must overcome in order to mount a successful campaign?

FARIVAR: Although local politics is supposed to remain non-partisan, unfortunately the reality is different, especially here in Irvine. In order for me to run a successful campaign which remains non-partisan, I need to raise enough money to be able to introduce myself to Irvine residents. Since I am running for an open seat on the Council, there will be plenty of competition because the opposing side will do anything to fill the seat with one of their candidates. Therefore, I will have to be in a very strong position financially to counter that.

PAAIA.IAPAC: What are the fundraising goals of your committee?

FARIVAR: In order to run a successful campaign, I need to raise about $100,000. I will concentrate on fundraising most of this year, which is the main reason I have declared my candidacy so early. I want to have the time and the organization to raise money, so that I can concentrate on the "real" campaigning next year.

PAAIA/IAPAC: How will you communicate your ideas to the public?

FARIVAR: I have already created a website for my campaign, and I will use other social networking tools available to communicate. I must however say that I am quite old-fashioned in the sense that I think nothing can take the place of direct communication. Face-to-face interaction will be my most preferred way of campaigning, and I plan to have lots of meet-and-greet events in the near future. Next year, my main focus will be to have "socials" in various "villages" here in Irvine.

PAAIA/IAPAC: What are the most critical issues facing the City of Irvine today?

FARIVAR: Like most cities across the U.S., Irvine is experiencing the effects of the economic crisis, although because of sound financial planning the City did not have to cut major programs or let staff go. The City continues to address existing problems and offer services to people in need by working closely with non-profit organizations, and offering workshops on issues facing people. Aside from these issues, what I consider to be a challenge for the future of the City is to balance growth and the sense of community that residents enjoy. Irvine is growing rapidly. With a population of more than 210,000, the City's leadership has to continue planning wisely and progressively, in order to maintain the position that Irvine has gained regarding many issues such as public safety, green policies, and excellence in education. At the same time, the City is attracting new residents who embrace a more "urban" lifestyle. Maintaining a balance while planning for the future growth of the City is a challenge that the council will have to take on.

PAAIA/IAPAC: How does your campaign plan on addressing some of those issues?

FARIVAR: Collaborative efforts between City leadership, the public safety sector, the educational institutions and non-profit organizations are what will ensure that the City maintains its current status as the leader on many issues, while enabling the meticulous planning that Irvine is known for. I plan to be an advocate of a balanced approach when it comes to planning and strategizing for the future of the City.

PAAIA/IAPAC: What role do you think Iranian Americans can play in your campaign and what do you expect from the community?

FARIVAR: Irvine is a multi-cultural city, and the Iranian community is a large, integral part of it. Mobilizing our community and making it an active part of my campaign will enable me to run a strong campaign, and hopefully win the council seat, which in turn, would cement our position as a viable force in the city. As a community, we are represented in all the different sectors of society. We have educators, entrepreneurs, bankers, real-estate agents, investors, etc. What is missing is representation in local, state and national politics. As someone with interest and passion in local government, I am hoping to represent our community at that level.

PAAIA/IAPAC: What role can organizations like PAAIA/IAPAC play in assisting your campaign?

FARIVAR: With the endorsement of an organization like PAAIA/IAPAC, my candidacy will benefit from the backing of a viable and reputable organization, an organization that seeks out qualified candidates who represent our community in a positive manner. I am proud to represent my community in a way that reinforces a positive image. For the Iranian community, it will show that your organization believes in my candidacy. For the non-Iranian community, your support would reflect that not only do I have the support from individuals, but also of a non-partisan institution.

... Payvand News - 08/20/09 ... --

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