Indians make their mark on political landscape of America

Wednesday 15th November 2017 06:19 EST

California: Indian American candidates who were vying to claim city council, school board and other local seats in their respective cities, came away winning a vast majority of the elections. Among the winners during the November 7 elections were a slew from New Jersey including Sam Joshi and Falguni Patel in Edison, Virbhadra ‘Viru’ Patel in Woodbridge, Sangeeta Doshi in Cherry Hill, Shanti Narra in Middlesex County, and Deven Patel and Joyce Mehta in South Brunswick.

Other victorious Indian Americans throughout the country included Vijay Kapoor in Asheville, N.C.; Seema Singh Perez in Knoxville, Tenn.; Dimple Ajmera in Charlotte, N.C.; Satwinder Kaur and Maya Vengadasalam in Kent, Wash.; and Tanika Padhye in Redmond, Wash. Joshi won one of the three four-year council seats available. His 11,827 votes was second among the six candidates, behind vote leader Robert Diehl (12,382) and ahead of the other winner Alvaro Gomez (11,717). All three winners are Democrats; all three losers are Republicans.

Doshi was among a group of four Democrats who won the four three-year-termed seats in the Cherry Hill Township. The eight-candidate race saw all the Democratic winners tally more than 7,000 votes while none of the Republican losers scored more than 3,903 votes. Doshi finished fourth with 7,296 votes, nearly 700 behind top vote-getter David Fleisher.

Viru Patel was among the five Democrats to claim a Woodbridge City Council seat, doing so in the town’s 4th Ward, representing the Iselin and Menlopark Terrace neighbourhoods. Patel topped his Republican counterpart, Paul Danielczyk, by tallying nearly 1,000 more votes, 2,239 to 1,272. Patel took over the 4th Ward seat from James Major when he resigned last year. The Indian American is very active in Woodbridge's thriving Indian business community.

Falguni Patel was among the three winners for the Edison School Board, overcoming racist flyers circulated days before the election. She and a Chinese American candidate, Jerry Shi, were targeted in mailings that said that they should both be deported and that "Chinese and Indians are taking over our town.”

Deven Patel won the South Brunswick School Board seat, coming in second of the three winners with 4,118 votes, seven ahead of third place Patrick Del Piano (4,111) and more than 700 votes behind top vote-getter Arthur Robinson (4,833). Coming up short in the school board election were Deep Shukla (2,885 votes) and Mahendra Patel (1,974).

Mehta also won a South Brunswick School Board seat, claiming the one open two-year term for the township. The Indian American topped another Indian American, Anilkumar Patel, in winning the seat. Mehta tallied 4,364 votes, nearly double that of Patel’s 2,223. Narra claimed the single one-year unexpired term freeholder seat in Middlesex County. The Democrat received 92,281 votes, winning in a landslide over her Republican counterpart Roger Daley, who tallied 60,365 votes.

Kapoor claimed a seat on the Asheville City Council, earning the most votes of the six candidates with 23 per cent of the vote - 10,491 votes. The top three vote-getters, including Sheneika Smith (20 per cent) and Gwen Wisler (18 per cent), were named to the council.

In Charlotte, the 31-year-old Ajmera, a Democrat who was appointed to the council to replace John Autry earlier in the year, finished fourth in the council election and earned a seat. Her tally of 59,733 votes was over 12,000 more than the fifth-place John Powell, a Republican, who was on the outside looking in. In total, she received 14.5 per cent of the vote, less than 3 per cent behind top vote-getter Julie Eiselt. Democrats accounted for all four at-large council seats.

In Washington state, a plethora of Indian Americans were looking to claim seats. In the Kent City Council race, Kaur earned a seat with her 54.8 to 45.2 percent (5,846 votes to 4,814) over Paul Addis for position No. 2. Vengadasalam won the Kent School Board seat, running unopposed as the incumbent. Padhye was the winner in Redmond’s No. 4 City Council seat, winning convincingly 61 percent to 39 percent over Eugene Zakhareyev. Padhye, an Indian American former civil rights attorney, was appointed to the post earlier this year.

Others who came up short included Hari Pillai in the Cambridge, Mass., City Council race; Preeti Shridhar in Seattle for the Port of Seattle Commissioner seat; Rituja Indapure in the Sammamish, Wash., City Council race; Rekha Nandwani in Jersey City, N.J., for a City Council seat; Bangladeshi Mohammad Rahman in the New York City Council race; and Krisha Chachra in the Blacksburg, Va., Council race.

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