Indian American Satish Garimella, who is on the verge of completing his eighth year on the Morrisville, NC, Town Council, is seeking a third term, counting on voters to recognize his eight-year record in office.
“Earning the trust of our residents is a cherished privilege,” he told The American Bazaar. “Serving on the town council brings me enormous satisfaction. The community holds great importance for me. Addressing the concerns and needs of individual residents and their families inspires me, as I truly value the positive contributions I can make.”
The election is scheduled for November 7. Early voting began on October 19 and will conclude on November 4.
Garimella, who was raised in Mumbai, India, is running for an at-large seat on the council, allowing all eligible voters of the town to cast their votes for the candidate
Primarily situated within Wake County, North Carolina’s most populous county, Morrisville is a key town of the Research Triangle metropolitan region, which is anchored by the cities of Raleigh, Durham, and Chapel Hill.
Morrisville is one of the very few U.S. towns where Indian Americans make up the largest ethnic group. Approximately 46 percent of the town’s nearly 32,000 residents are of Indian American descent, while 35 percent are white, and 10 percent are African American.
In addition to a mayor and pro tem mayor, there are five members on the town council. The current council also includes another Indian American, Steve Rao.
Garimella, the son of two university professors, arrived in the Research Triangle area in 2003. An engineer by training — he holds a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering and a master’s in computer science and serves as a senior manager at a large pharmaceutical company — it was his passion for community service and politics that inspired the Indian American to run for the town council in 2015.
Since taking office as a council member in December of that year, Garimella has had a significant impact on both the council and the town. He found particular satisfaction in his role when he secured vaccinations for 17,000 individuals during the COVID-19 pandemic.
As an Indian American, the councilman often receives requests for assistance from community members in need of help with visa and consular matters. Through nurturing strong relationships with the Embassy of India in Washington, DC, as well as U.S. missions in India, he has been able to provide vital support to those seeking assistance. Over the past eight years, he has also coordinated numerous camps and events to benefit the community.
The councilman said that his role as a council member has provided him with the opportunity to serve on multiple boards and committees, further enhancing his ability to serve his constituents effectively.
Some of the influential boards and council-appointed committees he has served in the past eight years include the Board of Directors for WakeMed Health and Hospitals, the Board of Directors for the North Carolina League of Municipalities (NCLM), the North Carolina League of Municipalities Legislative Policy Committee, the Cary/Morrisville Joint Issue Subcommittee, and the Wake County Fire Commission.
“I’m deeply grateful for the enriching experiences and insights gained,” he said, reflecting on these experiences. “I ventured into unfamiliar territories by joining various boards, expanding my understanding of community needs. Forming friendships with diverse individuals has been particularly rewarding.”
The feeling that is earned when an initiative is completed, and the opening-day ribbon is cut on a complex project that required months and years of focused and committed work is something special, Garimella said. He added, “It is in that moment that you realize the importance of public service in cultivating and strengthening the bonds of community that are so vital to Morrisville’s residents.”
Bringing professional cricket to Morrisville
One cause that Garimella was able to effectively advance using his position of power as a council member is the promotion of cricket in the Research Triangle Area, renowned for its world-class universities and cutting-edge research facilities.
He played a crucial role in the redevelopment of Church Street Park, one of the two venues for Major League Cricket’s inaugural season last July.
When Church Street Park was originally developed in the mid-2010s, it was designed for multiple sports. However, with the increasing South Asian American population and the rising popularity of cricket in the region, especially through the Triangle Cricket League (TCL), which was founded in 2009 and overseas and regulates a number of tournaments and players, there was a growing need for a high-quality cricket ground with a well-maintained pitch and proper floodlights. (Established in 2009, TCL organizes various tournaments, featuring nearly 3,000 players in various men’s, women’s, boys’, and girls’ categories.)
Garimella — who played college cricket in Mumbai and once trained under the legendary Ramakant Achrekar, the same coach who nurtured India’s cricketing legend Sachin Tendulkar —said it’s fortunate that previous councils recognized cricket’s popularity in the region and converted four baseball fields into cricket grounds.
“After my election in 2015, I looked at the park and told the council that we need lights at the park,” he recalled. “Without the lights, nothing will work. So, in 2017, I proposed to the council to install the lights. Around the same time, the hotel-motel tax department of the county inquired if we had any projects that could bring economic development to the area. We had other big players competing for the same dollars: museums, the PNC Arena, home to the National Hockey League’s Carolina Hurricanes, and many other different projects. In fact, we were very late in the game, too.”
Before the proposal was presented to the council, it underwent a vetting process by the staff. There was one major issue: the cost.
“It was a hard sell,” the councilman recalled. “I had to lobby all the top country officials. Then I got all the county commissioners to look at Church Street Park. They saw the potential and they voted.
They realized that it had value for money. Then we had to give a matching fund: they gave most of the money, but we had to give a small share. And ultimately, the lights were installed.”
Following the installation of lights, Church Street Park hosted a number of northern sub-region group matches of the 2018-19 ICC T20 World Cup Americas Qualifier. The matches were held under the aegis of USA Cricket, the governing body for cricket in the United States and affiliated with the International Cricket Council (ICC), the global governing body for the sport.
To bring professional cricket, there was another requirement: international-standard pitches that needed to be maintained year-round. This is where American Cricket Enterprises (ACE), a private organization on the verge of launching Major League Cricket (MLC), played a pivotal role. ACE was actively seeking a suitable venue for the inaugural MLC, and Morrisville, with its substantial South Asian population, was identified as one of the two venues.
On July 20, 2023, Church Street Park hosted the largest match in its brief history, a Major League game between the LA Knight Riders and Washington Freedom. Over the next few days, the stadium witnessed six additional matches, drawing thousands of cricket fans from various parts of the country.
The Town of Morrisville, which owns Church Street Park, has an agreement with ACE that allows MLC to use it. The rest of the time TCL uses it for the games and leagues it oversees. “We take a lot of pride in maintaining the ground,” Garimella said.
The councilman said the story of how a small town like Morrisville became a cricket hotspot in the United States is a testament to the work put in by his colleagues on the council and the cricket enthusiasts of the region. He also thanked ACE and USA Cricket for choosing to make Church Street Park one of the two venues for MLC in its inaugural season
For his re-election, Garimella has garnered the endorsement of several influential political leaders and prominent Political Action Committees (PACs) within the Tar Heel State.
Those who have endorsed him include U.S. Rep. Deborah Ross, who represents the state’s second congressional district, which includes the town of Morrisville, and the North Carolina Senate Minority Whip Jay Chaudhari, one of the most prominent Indian American political leaders in the state.
“I am profoundly humbled and deeply honored to receive endorsements from Congresswoman Deborah Ross, who has been a guiding mentor throughout my journey, and Senate Minority Whip Leader Jay Chaudhari,” said Garimella, who also has the support of two key state lawmakers, Sen. Gale Adcock and Reps. Ya Liu and Mariah Cervania.
Additionally, he has received the backing of PACs and community organizations such as the North Carolina Indian American Political Action Committee (NC-INPAC), North Carolina Asian Americans Together (NCAAT) and North Carolina American Indian Association (NCAIA).
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“The support from various influential PACs, including those representing the Asian American community, fills me with gratitude,” Garimella said. “I want to emphasize that I do not take these endorsements lightly. They are a testament to the collaborative efforts I’ve invested in working alongside their respective offices for the betterment of our community. I firmly believe in the power of building strong relationships with a diverse array of entities, from the Indian Embassy to U.S. immigration authorities, and from local healthcare professionals to dedicated attorneys. These connections are crucial in fostering the growth and prosperity of the Triangle community.”