20 South Asians won 2021 elections from schools to state senate

Defying national trends many pulled off historic victories, building the community’s political power

As many as 20 South Asians, all but a couple of them Indian Americans, won in the November polls pulling off several historic victories from school boards to state legislatures.

“We are thrilled to share that 20 of our endorsed candidates won their elections last month,” Neil Makhija, Executive Director of Indian American Impact, a leading community organization stated.

“Many of them defied national trends and pulled off historic victories, building our community’s political power and representation in public service,”  he said noting, “Ten (50%) of our winning candidates were women and eleven (55%) were challengers, elected to office for the first time.”

“They will all be powerful advocates for their respective communities and give a voice to many that have been traditionally left out of the conversation,” Makhija said.

Six of the South Asian victories came in New Jersey, three each in New York and Pennsylvania, two in Ohio and one each in North Carolina, Massachusetts, South Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia and Wisconsin.

Among the key victors were Aftab Pureval who won his election for Cincinnati mayor, becoming the first Indian American Mayor elected in Ohio.

Read: In historic win, Indian American Aftab Pureval elected Cincinnati mayor (November 3, 2021)

Shekar Krishnan, became the first Indian American elected to New York City Council with Shahana Hanif, the first Bangladeshi and Muslim woman elected to New York City Council.

Dr. Aditi Srivastav Bussells won her election for Columbia City Council, becoming the first Indian American woman elected to municipal office in South Carolina.

Akriti Bhambi, became the first AAPI school board member elected in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

In New Jersey, Ravi Bhalla, who was elected State’s first Sikh mayor in 2017 won his second term in Hoboken unopposed.

Vin Gopal was reelected to state Senate in Monmouth County, while Jabalpur born Sangeeta Doshi was reelected to Cherry Hill Township Council.

Sadar Jaffar, daughter of a Pakistani mother was elected from Princeton to become the first female South Asian mayor in New Jersey and the first female Muslim mayor in the state.

Raj Mukherji and Sterley Stanley were reelected to the state assembly from Hudson County and Edison (East Brunswick) respectively.

In New York state, besides Krishnan and Hanif, Minita Sanghvi, was elected City Council Commissioner of Finance in Saratoga Springs.  Sanghvi is also the first woman of color and the first LGBTQ to get elected to the Saratoga Springs City Council.

Read: Shekar Krishnan, Shahana Hanif make history winning New York City council races (November 3, 2021)

In Pennsylvania, Madhu Gurthy, Robert Singh, and Dr. Mariam Mahmud won School Board elections in Downington, Tredyffrin, and

Central Bucks respectively.

In Ohio, besides Pureval, Kristin Malhotra was reelected Township Trustee in Deerfield.

In North Carolina, Steve Rao was reelected to Morrisville Town Council. In South Carolina, Aditi Srivastav Bussels was elected to Columbia, City Council.

In Tennessee, Seema Singh was reelected to Knoxville City Council. In Virginia, Suhas Subramanyam was reelected to House of delegates in Loudoun County.

In Wisconsin, India born Jilly Gokalgandhi was elected School Board director in Milwaukee.

“While not everyone was elected, we are so thankful to the dozens of talented and hard-working candidates who ran for office this year. We hope they too will run again,” Makhija said noting Impact is already working on its 2022 slate.

(Correction: A previous version of the story misspelled Saratoga Springs as Sarasota.)

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