- She will be the first South Asian and first Pakistani American woman in the New Jersey State Assembly, along with Shama Haider who won her first term seat from the 37th legislative district.
Sadaf Jaffer, the two-term former mayor of Montgomery has become the first South Asian and first Pakistani American woman to be elected to the New Jersey State Assembly, along with Shama Haider, chair of the Democratic Party in Tenafly, who won her first term seat from the 37th legislative district.
Jaffer declared victory today, Nov. 5, after narrowly scraping through her GOP opponents, Vincent Panico and Joseph Lukac in the 16th legislative district. Her running mate, incumbent state Assemblyman Roy Freiman emerged victorious earlier, as did Andrew Zwicker, who won his maiden bid for State Senate.
Jaffer, Panico and Republican Joseph Lucak were vying for the open Assembly seat of Zwicker. His win has managed a Democratic flip of a Senate seat the Republicans have held since 1905. Freiman won with 38,119 votes (36 percent), followed by Jaffer with 36,690 votes (25 percent). Panico received 35,478 votes (24 percent) and Lukac, 34,830 votes (24 percent).
“I am truly honored that our team has earned the support of the voters in the 16th district,” Jaffer told Insider NJ. “Thank you to all of the volunteers who knocked on doors, made phone calls, and encouraged civic engagement in the community. I am grateful for our campaign staff and supporters with whom we share this victory tonight. My election to the General Assembly brings us closer to having a State Legislature that reflects the diversity of our state, and I hope this inspires people from diverse backgrounds to get more involved in public service. I am looking forward to working with Senator-Elect Zwicker and Assemblyman Freiman to serve the people of New Jersey and build a stronger, healthier, and more prosperous future.”
Together, Haider and Jaffer will join two other Indian Americans in the state legislature — Raj Mukherji, and Sterley Stanley, who both won their reelection bids from District 33 and District 18, respectively.
Jaffer most recently served as the mayor of Montgomery Township, becoming the first South Asian woman mayor in New Jersey and the first Pakistani American woman mayor in the U.S.She serves as a postdoctoral research associate in South Asian studies at Princeton University, where she teaches courses on South Asian, Islamic and Asian-American studies.
She earned her bachelor’s degree from Walsh School of Foreign Service at Georgetown University and obtained her PhD in Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations with a secondary field in Studies of Women, Gender and Sexuality from Harvard University.