Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Racist flyers be damned: A South Asian landslide in New Jersey polls

Ravi Bhalla thanks his supporters who helped him get elected as Hoboken's mayor.

WHOEVER paid for those racist flyers against Asian American candidates in New Jersey wasted their money. The targeted candidates won their elections in a rebuke of the xenophobes.

Ravi Bhalla scored another "first" last night (Nov. 7) when he became the first Sikh/American to be elected mayor of Hoboken, N.J.

When he was elected to the Hoboken City Council, he was the first Sikh/American to win elected office in the state.

"Thank you for having faith in me, for having faith in our community, faith in our state, and faith in our country; this is what America is all about," he told his family and supporters. "We've been through a bruising campaign ... but now is the time we come together and see who we can work with to bring this city forward."

City Councilman Bhalla has emerged victorious in the six-person mayoral race, becoming the first Sikh mayor of the Mile Square City -- and the state of New Jersey.
He overcame a last-minute racist flyer that hit Hoboken streets over the weekend linking him to terrorism.
Bhalla won by gaining support beyond the small Asian/American population, which made up only 8% of Hoboken's population. He was endorsed by current Mayor Dawn Zimmer.
A couple of days before the racist flyers against Bhalla were sent out, Edison Board of Education candidates Falguni Patel and Jerry Shi were targeted with similar flyers saying they should both be deported.

Both Patel and Shi won their respective seats for a two-year term on the Board of Education. Shi got 5,173,  and 
Patel received 4,979 votes. However, other candidates Aqib Virani and Sunil Vuppula lost. 

For South Asians in New Jersey, the off-year election was historic. In a single day, preceded by months of campaigning, the face of the state's political scene changed.

Democrat Samip "Sam" Joshi won an Edison Township Council seat for a four-year term

Vin Gopal
In one of the most expensive and closely watched race in New Jersey, in one of the biggest upsets of the night, Democrat Vin Gopal  unseated incumbent GOP candidate Sen. Jennifer Beck for the right to represent the 11th senatorial district where Indian/Americans made up onlly 1 percent of the population.  Gopal's victory was helped with a definite anti-Trump mood in blue state New Jersey.

The 11th legislative district covers 18 towns in Monmouth County, including Asbury Park and Freehold.

Democrats further solidified their hold on the state legislature. Assemblyman Raj Mukerjee of District 33, a Democrat, held onto his seat. However, Republican Deepak Malhotra of District 19 and Democrat Nirav Patel of District 12 lost their bid for an Assembly seat.

In the Middlesex County Freeholders race, Democrat Shanti Narra won a one-year unexpired term, but Republican Priti Pandya-Patel was not as successful.