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21-year-old tech entrepreneur running for SF mayor

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Mehak Vohra, CEO and founder of Jamocha Media, is running for mayor in 2019. (Courtesy Mehak Vohra)

There’s nothing like a San Francisco mayor’s race to attract all kinds of candidates — the seasoned politicians, the political neophytes, the longshot dreamers and colorful characters who don’t have a shot.

The November 2019 mayor’s race has only just started to take shape, but it already has both a seasoned politician and lesser-knowns lining up for the contest.

The latest candidate to file to run is 21-year-old Mehak Vohra, CEO and founder of Jamocha Media, a digital marketing agency. Vohra, a registered Democrat, is also a frequent YouTuber under the channel name watthemehak and a vlogger (video blogger).

“I understand the odds are not in my favor, but regardless of whether I win or lose, I want to bring awareness to the important issues and give a voice to the next generation in San Francisco,” Vohra told the San Francisco Examiner on Tuesday via email.

Vohra, who lives in Noe Valley, dropped out of Purdue University last year, where she was working toward a degree in computer science, and moved to San Francisco, following the path of other techies who migrated in recent years to the “city of innovation” in search of success.

“I moved here to take my digital media company, Jamocha Media, full-time,” Vohra said. Her company assists startups with their marketing.

Mayor Ed Lee is termed out of office in 2019, though his re-election bid in 2015 saw a coordinated effort among three left-leaning firebrand candidates who sought to make the campaign a referendum on the mayor, blasting him on such issues as income inequality, soaring rents and catering to tech moguls.

Vohra doesn’t fit into the mayor-bashing category. In fact, she has nothing but praise for him. “I respect Ed Lee as a mayor,” Vohra said. “As involved as he is with making The City better, I find it troubling that a good amount of my friends don’t know who he is.”

Vohra describes herself as a software engineer and entrepreneur on her YouTube channel, where she interviews leaders of tech startups. “I also like to rap,” Vohra’s YouTube channel states. As proof, she has a video called “Startups in My DNA.”The rapping talent could come in handy. After all, MC Hammer helped promote Lee through a rap video during his first run for mayor in 2011.

She also writes for Quora, a Silicon Valley-based knowledge sharing website. But don’t look for her comments on local political issues on her social media streams. There doesn’t appear to be any.

For instance, on Aug. 30, she tweeted, “I’m so lucky to have the opportunity to do what I want to do every single day.”

But that likely will change. Vohra said Tuesday that “right now, my main goal is creating my platform, and reaching more people.”

Vohra was named among the top 10 Gen Z experts, those marketers who have started to focus on those born between 1995 and 2010 — those younger than millennials — in a July article published on Forbes.com.

Former state Sen. Mark Leno has the distinction of being the first seasoned politician to officially declare and has begun amassing a war chest for his campaign — $167,000 as of June 30.

“I really look up to Mark Leno,” Vohra said. “I’m trying to offer an alternative younger view for the next generation. My goal is to encourage younger people to make it out to the polls, and get involved with the community.”

Vohra said the top three issues facing San Francisco are education, cost of living and public health.

She advocates for reforming the school assignment system to allow students to attend schools in their neighborhood, and said, “There should be more programs set in place for students to learn more about entrepreneurship.”

“We are the most innovative city in the United States, and yet somehow we are not letting our children reap the benefits of that,” Vohra said.

Like most people, Vohra believes the cost of living “is way too high” and would like to somehow address that.

Her public health concerns focus on street conditions. “I think there should be more public restrooms,” she said. “I also think that we need a better way to help rehabilitate homeless people on the street who do not have the means to help themselves.”

Other candidates who filed include Erica Sandberg, the inspiration behind The City’s 311 “snitch app” to report homeless residents seen on the streets, and who has recently criticized The City’s plan to open safe injection sites.

Harold Miller, who has run in past mayoral elections and has experience driving a taxi cab, has also filed to give it another try. In 2015, he promoted himself as a “regular guy” as opposed to a “political game player.”

Brooklyn-native Mike Caccioppoli is another candidate who filed to run, and he promises to “hire people who have the best interests of the residents of this city as their top priority not the corporate class.”

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