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3 South Asian Americans Win Democratic Primary Races for New York City Council

3 South Asian Americans Win Democratic Primary Races for New York City Council

  • Indian American civil rights lawyer Shekar Krishnan, Bangladeshi organizer Shahana Hanif, and Ind0-Caribbean teacher Felicia Singh among the first group of South Asian Americans who are likely to be elected to the New York City Council in November.

Indian American civil rights lawyer Shekar Krishnan has won the Democratic primary for a New York City Council seat from District 25 with 6,352 or 53.4 percent votes. He is among the first group of South Asian Americans headed to the New York City Council. In the 39th District, organizer Shahana Hanif defeated Brandon West by over 3,900 votes, while Felicia Singh, who is running to represent District 32 in the city council, also advanced to the November elections with 4,684 or 52.5 percent votes. 

“Finally ready to say it: we did it District 25, we won,” Krishnan wrote on his social media handles. “I am so proud of the coalition we built — a coalition of families, workers, and immigrants from across Elmhurst & Jackson Heights,” he wrote. “Our multi-generational, multicultural, multilingual campaign was, as so many have commented, ‘everywhere.’ We called, we knocked doors, we hit the streets, we spoke to neighbors day in and day out across every corner of the district, sharing our bold, inclusive vision for our city,” he wrote.

In a Facebook post, Krishnan wrote: “Finally, it’s not lost on me the history we’ve made. I will be among the first group of South Asians in the New York City Council. I have the humbling, extraordinary opportunity to represent my people. I take this responsibility seriously and expect accountability from every corner of this beautiful and diverse district. I will fight every day for our communities and the city we want to create. A better future is possible, and we will build it together.”

In a Twitter post, Singh thanked every voter who ranked her on their ballot. “When I’m your council member, l’ll fight for equity and justice in our district,” she wrote. “It’s an honor, and a great responsibility to win the Democratic nomination in District 32, one of the largest and most diverse districts in Queens,” tweeted Singh.

Meanwhile,  Jaslin Kaur, a Democrat who ran for a New York City Council seat representing District 23, conceded on July 5, three days after ranked choice vote counts were released on July 2. She is at second spot with 26 percent votes, trailing behind Linda Lee who is leading with 30 percent. Kaur was endorsed by the U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders and Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, as well as the New York City chapter of Democratic Socialists of America.

Shahana Hanif

“The final tabulations have not been certified, but it is clear that, though we led for part of the ranked-choice process, we will finish a close second in the final round,” Kaur wrote on her social media handles. “Team Jaslin’s disappointment is eclipsed by the pride and hope we feel today,” she wrote. “We organized a groundbreaking volunteer political operation such as District 23 had never seen: 700 unique volunteers worked 2,000 shifts, knocking 30,000 doors and placing 75,000 phone calls. Our multilingual, multi-faith, multi-ethnic, multi-generational campaign won in the working-class neighborhoods in the Southern half of the district, amongst Punjabis, Bangladeshis, other South Asian communities, Black voters, Latino voters, and more.” She said she’s eager to work with presumptive Councilmember Lee to ensure that these areas are no longer ignored by their representative in City Hall.

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Felicia Singh

Similarly, Moumita Ahmed from District 24, who was trailing behind winner James Gennaro conceded a day after the primary. Ahmed was hailed as a “brave socialist” by mayoral candidate Maya Wiley. “We’re proud of the progress we made to engage working-class people in our communities to stand up to billionaire developers,” Ahmed wrote on her Facebook post. “We concede, for this moment, for this race. But the movement for housing justice continues, and we’ll be at the frontlines to fight FOR US.” Mujib Rahman, the conservative Democratic candidate from the district, ran uncontested and advanced to November.

In District 26, Amit Singh Bagga lost the Democratic primary to Julie Won by a thin margin. “An enormous and heartfelt thanks to all of our supporters, volunteers; to my team, friends, family, and partner; and deepest thanks to all 4,715 (and counting) neighbors who cast their votes for me,” Bagga wrote in a Facebook post. “Thank you for joining our movement to bring opportunity, dignity, and power to the people of Queens.  It’s been a distinct privilege to have answered the call of public service for the last 15 years; I look forward to continuing to answering this call on behalf of my fellow New Yorkers for the course of my life.” 

It was a rough road for Reshma Patel, candidate for New York City comptroller. Polling data as of July 7 shows Patel at the seventh spot with 45,358 or 5.3 percent votes in a crowded field of 10 democratic candidates vying to replace Scott Stringer, who is eliminated from his bid for the city’s mayor since sexual misconduct allegations against him began to surface. 

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