HOBOKEN, N.J. — Three Asian-American political candidates targeted by racist campaign attacks won New Jersey elections, including one who will become the city’s first Sikh mayor.
Ravi Bhalla was elected mayor Tuesday, and Jerry Shi and Falguni Patel won seats on the school board in Edison.
Bhalla, a city council member, had been the subject of anonymously distributed flyers that labeled him a terrorist. The flyers featured a picture of Bhalla with the message “Don’t let TERRORISM take over our Town!” The Indian-American politician called the flyers troubling in a Twitter post but said “we won’t let hate win.”
“We’ve been through a bruising campaign,” Bhalla told supporters at a campaign event, “but now is the time we come together and see who we can work with to bring this city forward.”
Bhalla topped five other candidates and will succeed Dawn Zimmer, who decided not to seek a third term. Zimmer endorsed him.
Shi and Patel were targeted by mailers that read “Make Edison Great Again,” evoking President Donald Trump’s campaign slogan, and said “the Chinese and Indians are taking over our town.” It called for the candidates to be deported.
Edison has a large Asian-American community, many of them Chinese and Indian immigrants. More than 45 percent of Edison was born abroad, and about a quarter of the township was born in India.
The ads violated state election law because they do not identify who paid for them.
Patel, a Democratic committeewoman and immigration lawyer, said last week that she was disgusted by the pamphlets.
“I was born and raised in New Jersey,” she said. “To see the word ‘deport’ on my picture … really it’s just outrageous.”
Officials are investigating who created the flyers and mailers.