Mukherji joins Chivukula in NJ Assembly; Mangipudi pulls off upset in New Hampshire polls

Shah wins council seat in NJ; Rao retains seat in NC.

By Deepak Chitnis

WASHINGTON, DC: The most significant gains for the Indian American community from the November 5 elections came in New Jersey with incumbent Assemblyman Upendra Chivukula retaining his seat from the 17th District in the State Assembly, and joining him in the state legislature is debutant Raj Mukherji, who won his race to represent the 33rd District.

Democrat Chivukula and fellow incumbent Joseph Egan won comfortably. Mukherji, 29, who was born in Kolkata, and is the former Jersey City Deputy Mayor, got 18,586 votes. His deep roots with the state government machinery stood him in good stead. At the age of 24, he was appointed as commissioner and chairman of the Jersey City Housing Authority, the youngest ever.

Another notable winner was Democrat Sapana Shah, who with 7,862 votes, to earned a spot on the Edison Municipal Council.

Some others didn’t win their campaigns in New Jersey.

Republican Sudhir Deshmukh lost his campaign for the state assembly from the 5th District. He got only just over 36% of the vote, while Democratic incumbent James Beach had nearly 64%.

Also, Sudhanshu Prasad, running as an Independent, to be the Mayor of Edison, came in at fourth place in the race, with just under 12% of the total votes. Thomas Lankey will become the new mayor of Edison Township.

Krupal Shukla, a Republican running for one of three seats on the Edison Municipal Council, also lost his race. There were a number of Indian Americans running in Edison: Shukla was part of Mayoral candidate Gaetano Gaspar’s team, Prasad’s campaign had Mohin Patel vying for a Council seat, and candidate Antonia Ricigliano had Sandip Patel running as part of her team.

Elsewhere, the most notable victory was achieved by Democrat Latha Mangipudi, who beat Pete Silva to become to be New Hampshire’s State Representative from Ward 8. The victory is considered by many to be an upset. Mangipudi won by a surprisingly comfortable margin of 862-598 votes, or 59%-41%.

In Seattle, Kshama Sawant lost her race for a seat on the City Council to four-term incumbent Richard Conlin, by a margin of 53.6% to 46.1%. The relatively narrow victory for Conlin is something Sawant’s supporters are celebrating rather than feeling dejected by, with her campaign already saying they’re organizing another run for 2015.

The race for New York City Public Advocate has gone to Letitia James, with a staggering 83.6% of the vote, meaning that Indian American candidate Reshma Saujani lost the incredibly one-sided race (second place Robert Maresca wasn’t even close either, only procuring 12.2% of the votes).

Steve Rao will retain his seat on the Morrisville, NC City Council, remaining as the only Indian American on the Council. There were three other desis challenging other incumbents for seats — Rao Bondalapati, Vinnie Goel, and Narendra Singh – but their campaigns did not yield victories.

To contact the author, email to deepakchitnis@americanbazaaronline.com

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