A campaign sign for Sarika Bansal, an Indian American small business owner running for Cary Town Council in North Carolina, was found vandalized last week.
Bansal is the only person of color running for the council this year. If elected, she would become the second woman of color and the first Indian American to serve on the Town Council.
Cary is home to over 180,000 residents, and Asian Americans make up 20 percent of the population. Cary’s municipal election is on October 10, weeks before the county’s Election Day on Nov 7.
Bansal was attending the Town Council’s regular meeting when a friend texted her about the sign, The News and Observer reported.
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Her head on the sign was seemingly scratched off and a photo of a Black person’s face was superimposed over her face.
Bansal said the sign was found in the Highcroft Village neighborhood in West Cary. That’s in District D where she is running for a council seat.
Bansal told the newspaper she did not know if any other signs had been defaced.
“This was shocking. … Even after the meeting, I usually walk down and talk to the council members but I couldn’t because I was so shocked,” she was quoted as saying in an interview.
“I came home, I had my dinner, and my phone started going crazy because it was all over social media.”
It is a class 3 misdemeanor in North Carolina for a person to steal, deface, vandalize or remove a political sign that is lawfully placed.
Mayor Harold Weinbrecht said in a statement that the town will do “everything we can to get to the bottom of this.”
“This racist, despicable act stands in stark opposition to the values we hold dear in Cary and will only serve to bring our community closer,” Weinbrecht said.
“West Cary needs sustainable leadership,” Bansal said. “Having diversity on the Town Council is going to help bring the change that we need today.”
A small business owner and resident of Cary, Bansal started her business, Raj Jewels, in Morrisville five years ago. She has been active in local government in recent years.
In a statement Friday, Bansal called on other candidates to “commit themselves to working for a Cary that accepts people of all backgrounds and color.”
“I am truly saddened by the act of vandalism and racism against my campaign,” Bansal said. “We must embrace diversity as a means of building strength and unity in our town. There is no place for bigotry and racism against people of color, brown or Black, in the Town of Cary.”
Last year, Bansal sought the District D seat after Ya Liu was elected to the state House in November. Bansal and current Councilman Ryan Eades, who was appointed, were the two finalists for the seat.
Since announcing her campaign, Bansal said she has been met with support.
“The Indian American community is extremely excited,” Bansal said. “I’m happy, and I feel motivated to work hard for this beautiful town that I call home.”