Ravinder Singh Bhalla becomes the United States’ only directly elected turbaned Sikh Mayor with his victory at Hoboken, New Jersey.
The lawyer and city councilman emerged victorious in the six-person mayoral race, becoming the first Sikh mayor of the Mile Square City — and the state of New Jersey.
Bhalla, an Indian-American born in New Jersey, was endorsed by current Mayor Dawn Zimmer, who in a surprising decision announced she would not seek a third term in office, reports NJ.com.
“Thank you for having faith in me, for having faith in our community, faith in our state, and faith in our country; this is what America is all about,” he told the packed bar. “We’ve been through a bruising campaign… but now is the time we come together and see who we can work with to bring this city forward.”
Ravi, as he is known, and his group ran for the mayor and three council seats.
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The victory was not devoid of drama.
The race took a turn this week when doctored campaign fliers began circulating attacking Bhalla with the message “Don’t let TERRORISM take over our town!” above a picture of the Sikh mayoral candidate wearing a turban, reported the newspaper.
The fliers appeared to have been a modified version of a mailer from DeFusco’s campaign, alleging Bhalla had a conflict of interest. The councilman condemned the fliers in a statement, saying his campaign had nothing to do with them.
In response, Bhalla replied: “Of course, this is troubling, but I want to be clear: We won’t let hate win in Hoboken. I want people to know that Hoboken is a welcoming community where my wife and I are proud to raise our two young children. No matter your religion, race, ethnicity, or sexual orientation, you are welcome here in our City. And as Mayor, I will work hard to make sure we keep it that way.”
‘We won’t let hate win’ is reminiscent of the words of Jagmeet Singh in the run-up to his victory for the Canadian political party NPD.
At one event, a lady protestor had tried to interrupt his speaking session, refusing to make way.
In response, Jagmeet responsed: “We don’t want hate to ruin a positive event…We welcome you. We love you…Everyone in this room loves you, we believe in your rights. This room is filled with people who are loving…but this isn’t the best to do it, but it’s okay, we’ll talk some more.”
That video went viral. Jagmeet eventually won the NDP leadership race.
[ASIA SAMACHAR is an online newspaper for Sikhs in Southeast Asia and surrounding countries. We have a Facebook page, do give it a LIKE. Follow us on Twitter. Visit our website: www.asiasamachar.com] 16402
Ravinder set to make history if he wins Hoboken mayor race (Asia Samachar, 5 July 2017)
Is Canada ready for Jagmeet Singh? (Asia Samachar, 8 Sept 2017)