- The 37-year-old Indian American is the first first Asian-American elected to a county board of commissioners in the state; while the Bangladeshi American becomes the first South Asian and first immigrant member.
Neil Makhija, a Democratic candidate for Montgomery County Commissioner, won the election to fill one of two majority party seats on the governing body of Pennsylvania’s third-largest county. He is “the first-ever Indian American or AAPI to serve on a county’s board of commissioners in the Commonwealth’s 342-year history,” according to a press release issued by Makjija’s team.
“At a time when our fundamental rights and democracy itself are on the line, voters of Montgomery County chose a candidate who will fight to protect democratic principles and values,” said the 37-year-old civil rights advocate and Penn Law election law professor. “I am incredibly grateful and humbled by the voters’ faith in our vision for a proactive approach to protecting our voting rights, keeping guns off our streets, and working to ensure that Montgomery County remains a great place to live and raise a family for all.”
In the new role Makhija will “oversee the board of elections in Montgomery County as well as a $1 billion budget and 3,000 employees including elections, courts, district attorney’s office, public health departments, and public infrastructure, the press release added.
The Pennsylvania native graduated from Harvard Law School and has served as President of IMPACT, a leading national civic organization that turns communities of color out to vote.
History was made in the Philadelphia City Council as well. with Nina Ahmad winning one of the two at-large seats “to become the first South Asian member and the first immigrant in recent memory,” according to The Philadelphia Inquirer. She was the first Bangladeshi American to serve on President Barack Obama’s Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders (AAPI) advisory commission.
After her win, she told The Philadelphia Inquirer that she was “feeling good,” and was “very grateful to the voters of Philadelphia for once again believing in me.” She said she “spent the day thanking poll workers, calling them frontline soldiers keeping our democracy sacred.”
In State College, incumbent Nalini Krishnankutty won another two-year term on the borough council. The Democrat was appointed to the council in June 2022 “to fill the unexpired term of Richard Biever, who stepped down seven months after he was elected when he took a job out of state,” local website statecollege.com reported.
Incumbent Democrat K. S. Bhaskar, won the second term as Township District Supervisor in Tredyffrin 3rd District in Chester County. He received 2,258 or 63.7 percent of the votes to defeat Robert Robie. Since 2020, Bhaskar has been moving Tredyffrin “towards a greener and more sustainable future,” according to the Conservation Voters of PA website.
Meanwhile, Ashwini Udgaonkar lost the Marple Township Commissioner race from Ward 5 in Delaware County. She lost to Republican George Downs who received 862 votes compared to her 663. A resident of Marple for nearly 30 years, she has served her community through pro bono work for Legal Aid of Delaware County to help women get Protection from Abuse Orders and has worked with the Villanova Law School Clinic for Asylum by representing clients in their applications for Asylum, according to her website.
(Top photo, Neil Makhija Facebook)