- The Pakistani Americans will join two Indian American state legislators — Raj Mukherji, and Sterley Stanley, who were re-elected.
Former Montgomery Township Mayor Sadaf Jaffer and former chair of the Democratic Party in Tenafly Shama Haider were sworn in on Jan. 11 as members of the New Jersey General Assembly. The first-time legislators are the first Muslim Americans elected to the New Jersey Legislature. Haider won her first term seat from the 37th legislative district. Jaffer was elected from the 16th district.
The oath of office was administered by Speaker Pro Tempore Benjie Wimberly.
On Facebook, Jaffer wrote that she looks forward to serving her district and “New Jerseyans from every walk of life. I vow to bring a fresh perspective to the legislature and work on fair, equitable policies based on research,” she wrote.
“I’m really proud to be the first Asian American woman ever sworn in to the New Jersey legislature, and proud to serve with Shama Haider and Ellen Park as we double the Asian American Caucus,” Jaffer told American Kahani. “I look forward to working for the betterment of our state and our communities.”
Jaffer most recently became 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 Ph.D. in Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations with a secondary field in Studies of Women, Gender and Sexuality from Harvard University.
The Pakistan-born Haider was previously elected to the governing body of her town as a councilwoman and has run for mayor. While she was a councilwoman, Haider was the chair of the Tenafly Environmental Commission — initiating the first environmental resource inventory for Tenafly.
Before emigrating to the U.S., Haider served as secretary to Nusrat Bhutto, wife of Zulfikar Ali Bhutto when he was Prime Minister of Pakistan in the 1970s.
Together, Haider and Jaffer will join two other Indian Americans in the state legislature — Raj Mukherji, and Sterley Stanley, who both won reelection from District 33 and District 18, respectively.