HOUSTON – With 44,408 votes cast in his favor, Raj Salhotra is headed to a runoff election for Houston City Council, At Large Position 1.
The son of Indian immigrants, Salhotra, 28, ran up against incumbent Mike Knox as well as three left-leaning candidates in the general election in Harris County. Election results trickled in throughout the night on Tuesday, with final results showing Salhotra in second place with 22.11 percent of the votes, and Knox leading with 36.47 percent. Because no candidate received more than 50 percent of the votes, the top two candidates – Salhotra and Knox – will face off in a runoff election, to be held on Saturday, Dec. 14.
“We always knew this would be a two-step process,” Salhotra said to a room full of supporters during his watch party on Tuesday night. “We’re looking good on step one, and we’re ready for step two.”
Salhotra officially announced his candidacy for Houston City Council in March, and he has been campaigning rigorously for the past nine months. The son of Atul and Poonam Salhotra, Raj grew up in Houston and graduated from Rice University. He then went on to serve as a Teach for America corps member, teaching high school calculus and statistics at a charter school serving predominantly low-income, minority students.
Seeing students struggle to achieve academic success because of systemic barriers outside of the classroom inspired Salhotra to enter public service. After graduating from Harvard Law School in May 2018, Raj decided to return to his hometown and serve his community.
“I’m running for this position because of my family and because of my students,” Raj said in a statement. “The city of Houston, and this country more broadly, has helped my family live the American Dream. But as a teacher and non-profit leader, I have worked with hundreds of students who have the exact same aspirations as I do, whose parents work just as hard as mine do, but unfortunately, because of policy issues and structural inequalities, are trapped in poverty. I’m running for City Council to build one Houston, where everyone has an opportunity to succeed.”
If Salhotra wins the runoff, he will become the first Indian to hold a Houston City Council At-Large seat. He said he hopes to serve as an example to other minority students who are striving to enter politics.
Salhotra also serves as the president of the Young Hindus of Greater Houston, and he is the founder of a mentorship non-profit called SWAG to College.
To find out more about Raj’s campaign, visit his website https://www.rajforhouston.com/ and follow @RajforHouston on social media.