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Indian American Zohaib ‘Zo’ Qadri Becomes First Muslim Elected to Austin City Council

Indian American Zohaib ‘Zo’ Qadri Becomes First Muslim Elected to Austin City Council

  • He won the race from District 9 with 51 percent of the votes in the Dec. 14 runoff election.

Indian American Zohaib “Zo” Qadri has won the race for a seat on the Austin City Council from District 9 in last week’s runoff election, becoming the first Muslim elected to the council. He defeated Linda Guerrero after winning 51 percent of the votes. He will replace Council Member Kathie Tovo, who reached a term limit. Qadri is scheduled to be sworn in on Jan. 6.

In last month’s general election, neither candidate received more than 50 percent of the vote, prompting the Dec. 14 runoff. In that race, Qadri received 30 percent (10,759 votes) of the vote, while Guerrero received 22 percent (8,028 votes) of the vote in the district, which includes downtown Austin, the UT Austin campus area, and portions of Central and South Austin.

After his victory, Qadri told his supporters he wants to accurately represent the majority-renter city, and tackle issues including the climate crisis, housing affordability, and public health and safety, as reported by KUTAustin’s NPR station. He also emphasized transparency by city leaders. 

“During the campaign season, Qadri gained a lot of support among students, and election results showed he polled well in and around UT’s campus,” the KUT report said. “We wanted to make sure that every precinct, every neighborhood, every constituency was reached out to,” he told the radio station. “Whether it be longtime Austinites or young folks who have just moved to the city, I believe everyone deserves to have a voice in City Hall.”

The first-born child of immigrants, Qadri moved to Texas at the age of 12 with his parents and two younger sisters, his website says. A younger brother was born five years later. After deciding to follow in the footsteps of his mother who worked in a pathology lab and his father who was then an oncologist, Qadri began to pursue an education in science at the University of Texas at Austin. He switched paths midway to study the structures of political decision-making. He received a Master of Public Administration from Texas State and a second graduate degree from Rice in Global Affairs. 

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Zohaib “Zo” Qadri with his wife Wafa.

Since then, he has worked in advocacy roles and on political campaigns here in Austin, throughout Texas, and across the country including Beto O’Rourke and Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.). A local activist and volunteer, he has worked with the Texas Homeless Network, Austin Latino Coalition, and No On Prop B. He also serves on the advisory committee for the Travis County Democratic Party.

He is married to Wafa, a PA-C in family practice.

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