If elected, Makhija will be the first-ever South Asian American to hold the top job in a Pennsylvania county
Neil Makhija, an Indian American civil rights advocate and law professor has won the Democratic nomination for Montgomery County Commissioner, the top job in Pennsylvania’s third largest county with a $500 million budget and 3,000 employees.
The son of immigrants from india took leave as executive director of Indian American IMPACT, a leading community organization, to compete in the May 16 open primary against four candidates and an incumbent commissioner in the heavily Democratic county.
Read: Neil Makhija running for County Commissioner in Pennsylvania (March 20, 2023)
“It’s official! Our underdog campaign succeeded and I have officially won the Democratic nomination for Montgomery County Commissioner,” he tweeted Wednesday.
“None of this would have happened without my incredible team + supporters, and for that I am immeasurably grateful. Together, we made history.”
If elected, Makhija will be “the first-ever AAPI or South Asian American to serve on a county’s board of commissioners in the Commonwealth’s 342-year history,” according to a press release from Makhija.
“Congratulations to my friend, @NeilMakhija, on becoming the Democratic nominee for Montgomery County (PA) Commissioner!,” Aruna Miller, Maryland’s first Indian-American Lieutenant Governor, tweeted.
“At a time when our fundamental rights and democracy itself are on the line, voters of Montgomery County chose a candidate who will fight to protect democratic principles and values,” Makhija stated.
“I am incredibly grateful and humbled by the voters’ faith in our vision for a proactive approach to protecting our voting rights, standing up to Republicans in Harrisburg to keep guns off our streets, and working to ensure that Montgomery County remains a great place to live and raise a family for people of all walks of life.”
As commissioner, “he would oversee a $500 million budget and 3,000 employees including elections, courts, district attorney’s office, public health departments, and public infrastructure,” the press release said.
Additionally, he would “oversee the board of elections in Montgomery County, a crucial role ahead of the 2024 presidential and US Senate elections.”
The 36-year-old Penn Valley resident, who belongs to a Sindhi family from India, is one of two Democrats advancing to the general election, along with incumbent commissioner Jamila Winder.
They defeated Democrats Kimberly Koch, Tanya Bamford and Noah Marlier, and will face Republicans Thomas DiBello and Liz Ferry in the November general election.
The two commissioner vacancies were triggered by the appointment of former Montgomery County Commission chair Dr. Valerie Arkoosh’s appointment to the Gov. Josh Shapiro administration, and commissioner Ken Lawrence’s decision not to seek re-election.
In an email to his supporters, Makhija said his campaign “inspired a new and diverse coalition of voters to turn out to vote in every corner of the county”.
Makhija worked at the White House, Senate, and earned his JD at Harvard Law School on the Horace Lentz Scholarship.
The Pennsylvania native is passionate about enfranchising underrepresented communities and engaging new citizens in state and local politics.