- Here’s a sampling of some of the candidates who were elected on Nov. 7.
A large number of South Asian Americans ran for school board elections across the country, particularly in New Jersey, a testament to the community’s growing strength and its commitment to get involved in local politics. Many incumbents like Raja Krishna and Smitha Raj in South Brunswick, New Jersey, edged out their challengers to secure another term on the board. They were among nine candidates vying for three seats on the township’s Board of Education. In neighboring Cranbury, Vikal Kapoor secured a spot on the BOE with 667 votes.
Similarly, newcomer Anjana R. Patel won her bid on Edison’s BOE with 5,860 votes, while Suneet Kiran Bhatt received 2,165 votes for a seat on the education board in the Metuchen, while Vinita Jethwani was elected to the borough’s council with 2,535 votes. In North Brunswick, Rajesh Mehta led with 3,520 votes to secure a seat on the township council, and 5,061 votes secured Nazam Mohammed a seat on Woodbridge Township’s BOE.
In the northern part of the state, Sai Bhargavi Akiri, who ran unopposed for a seat in Berkeley Heights Board of Education “saw overwhelming support with 2,478 votes,” Tap Into Berkeley Heights reported. Abhinov Singh won his seat on the Harding Township Board of Education.
In Bloomingdale, Bangladeshi American S. Nadia Hussain won her election to the Board of Education. “Thank you, Bloomingdale, for supporting me to again be the highest vote-getter of our local candidates,” she wrote in a Facebook post. “Congratulations to my colleagues Alexis Hoermann Wilson and Christine Spencer on their re-elections! So excited to continue moving our district forward toward a bright future. I could never have done this without everyone’s support. Thank you from the bottom of my heart!”
Hussain is the Commissioner of the Asian American & Pacific Islander Commission, co-founder at the Bangladeshi American Women’s Development Initiative – BAWDI, and a trustee of the New Jersey chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU).
Some candidates lost their bids in the state, including Republican Anjaneyulu Karnati who was unsuccessful in his bid for a seat on Monroe Township Council. In the Board of Education races, Ranbir Singh lost his bid in the Old Bridge Township Board of Education, as did Talaha Khan and Niraj Patel in Piscataway.
Indian Americans fared well in Pennsylvania as well. Dr. Anisha Shah won a seat on the North Allegheny School Board, as Democrats take control of the board. Along with Elizabeth Warner and Bob Gibbs, Shah will join Democratic incumbents Leslie Britton Dozier and Paige Hardy in constituting the new board majority.
A similar scene played in the Methacton School District, where Democrats won tight races, with Pooja Chanda leading the board with 6,032 votes, Lower Providence Patch reported. In Limerick Township, Dr. Sagar Sharma grabbed a seat on the school board, with 2,899 votes.
According to Ballotpedia, approximately 9,000 school districts across 35 states held regular school board elections this Nov. 5. There are around 83,000 school board members and 13,000 districts in the United States, the online political encyclopedia noted, adding that “over 97% of local school board members are elected, while board members in a small number of districts are appointed.