Indian American Sam Joshi wins Democratic primary for Edison Mayor

Sam Joshi

Defeats Edison Democratic Chairman Mahesh Bhagia, another Indian American

Sam Joshi, Indian American Vice President for city council of Edison, New Jersey has won the Democratic Primary to run for the township’s mayor after a dogged political battle against a fellow Indian American.

Unofficial results showed Joshi secured 5,955 votes, running ahead by almost 2,800 votes over his nearest rival Edison Democratic Chairman Mahesh Bhagia (3,185 votes), MyCentralJersey.com reported. The third candidate Arthur Esposito secured only 564 votes.

Joshi will likely face Republican Keith Hahn in the November general election and possibly independent candidates Mayor Thomas Lankey, Councilman Richard Brescher and Christo Makropoulos.

Read: Jersey Governor endorses Sam Joshi for Edison Mayor (April 8, 2021)

The independent filing petitions show Lankey is running with Township Council candidates Michael Lombardi, Alvaro Gomez and Lav Patel. Hahn previously announced he is running with Township Council candidates R. Tali Epstein, Joseph Luistro and Payal Mehta.

Before serving on the council, Joshi, 27, was on the zoning board of adjustment in 2016-2017 and on the fair rental housing authority from 2010 to 2014.

“The people of Edison have spoken, and now it’s time for our Democratic Party and our community to come together and move forward into a new era of progress, and I could not be more excited to hopefully have the opportunity to lead Edison into that new day,” Joshi wrote in a Facebook post.

“I look forward to the general election and hopefully to beginning a new administration in January that will deliver the bold, transformative leadership that Edison deserves.”

Vowing to shift “the paradigm from politics to public policy” and “bringing our community together” Joshi says on his campaign website. “Edison is where I was born and raised.

“I am running for mayor to make a positive impact in our community. Using my experience and education, as mayor, I will form a new township masterplan, prioritize smart growth investments, such as launching municipal broadband for faster and cheaper internet that would generate revenue to offset high taxes, increase the value of our properties, cut municipal waste, and build a community that we are proud of now and for the future.”

Joshi, who received endorsements from key Democrats throughout the state, ran with Township Council candidates Margot Harris, Nish Patel and John Poyner, who also were the top vote-getters in their races.

Read: Indian American Samip ‘Sam’ Joshi runs for Edison Township Council (October 31, 2017)

Bhagia ran with Township Council candidates Tom McCain, Shannon Peng and Sparshil Patel. Esposito did not have a slate of running mates.

Harris received an unofficial 5,724 votes, Nish Patel, 5,421 votes and Poyner, 5,445 votes. McCann received 3,531, Sparshil Patel, 3,539 and Peng, 3,580.

Much of the primary race centered on the battle between Joshi and Bhagia with residents receiving stacks of campaign mail attacking the two men, according to MyCentralJersey.com.

Flyers from Edison Victory 2021 accused Bhagia of being the “mastermind” behind the 2017 Board of Education racist campaign flyers and alleged he owed  federal taxes.

And flyers from Edison Democratic Team 2021 accuse Joshi of raising taxes while not paying money he allegedly owed to his condo association.

Earlier this year Middlesex County Democratic Chairman Kevin McCabe removed Bhagia from the Middlesex County Democratic Organization slate in the primary because of his alleged connection to the investigation into racist flyers sent during the 2017 Board of Education election, coupled with his allies forming a slate to challenge other Democratic county political leaders.

Bhagia, a former mayor’s aide, said he was disappointed by the county party chairman’s action, which gave the line to his hand-picked candidate. But Joshi said Bhagia’s campaign was all about weaponized hatred.

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