Susoev has been a fixture in Fremont politics for more than two decades, but her support has dwindled in recent elections. She placed ninth out of 10 City Council candidates last year, nearly six hundred votes behind her more temperamental South Asian alter ego, Fazlur Khan.
Susoev has won her share of votes over the years as a homegrown protest against the status quo. But the city’s growing Chinese and Indian populations have started supplying their own somewhat zany outsider candidates, the most successful of which, Steve Cho, actually won elected office in 2000 and 2004.
Whether Susoev’s name change is enough to steer some of those votes back her way could help determine the 2012 mayor’s race.
City Councilmember Bill Harrison, who unofficially declared his candidacy 25 years ago during the Hulk Hogan vs. King Kong Bundy match at WrestleMania II, already has started wooing Asian voters.
He enrolled his younger son in a Mandarin immersion program this year and arranged for his older son to be married to the daughter of a modestly successful accountant in the Indian state of Uttar Pradesh. “Exactly,” he said over and over again.
Anu Natarajan, another likely mayoral candidate, was too busy rewriting Fremont’s general plan, and designing its future fine arts center to talk about Susoev.
Mayor Bob Wasserman seemed slightly confused when told about Susoev’s name change. “Isn’t she Korean?” he asked. “Oh, wait, that was Kathy McDonald. I get all the women ones mixed up sometimes.”
Susoev is actually the second Fremont politician to file for a name change. After finishing a distant seventh in the 1962 council race, Von Riddle changed his name to William Van Doorn and triumphed in 1964.
“I told him that going from German to Dutch would boost his vote between 6.72 percent, and 6.74 percent” Former Mayor Gus Morrison said. “He was smart; he listened to me.”
Susoev said she nearly changed her name once before for political gain. In 2002, when Fremont’s first family was at the height of their power, she filled out, but never filed paperwork changing her last name to Dutra.
“No one would have believed it,” she said. “I’m too tall.”