Ravi Bhalla advances in Hoboken City Council elections

Ravinder At the Langar Hall, we’ve covered a number of Sikh candidates’ campaigns for local government office. I just wanted to include a brief update about Ravi Bhalla, who looks poised to become one of Hoboken’s first Sikh city councilmembers as he enters a run-off election next month:

While it is clear that Peter Cammarano and Dawn Zimmer will vie for the Hoboken mayoralty on June 9, the provisional ballots may still change the neck-and-neck race to see which of the last three of six council-at-large candidates get into the runoff on that date. […]

As of Tuesday night, it looked like the top six will be as follows:
[1.] Carol Marsh 3,719
[2.] Ravi Bhalla 3,698
[3.] Dave Mello 3,361 [link]

When we last covered this story, Ravi was running as an independent for office. Since then, he joined a “reform” slate and has been campaigning extensively. His success comes as a surprise to some, who don’t understand how a practicing Sikh could get so far…

Bhalla joined a ticket headed by a candidate who positioned herself early as a City Hall reformer, and who underscored the designation when she placed Bhalla on her slate despite cautionary advice from those in the city who said Bhalla fulfilled no obvious demographic vital to winning local elections.

Hes not old Hoboken. Hes not Italian. Hes not Latino. Hes not labor. Hes not a yuppie in the classic sense. He has no unimpeachable connection to any local county bosses. [link]

Hoboken doesn’t have a large Sikh minority; in fact, it is not (in my opinion) a particularly diverse community. Nonetheless, Bhalla has made it to the last rounds of the local elections on the strength of his platform. This is an interesting moment for Hoboken; it shows an opportunity for the local community to embrace candidates from all walks of life based on the strength of their qualifications and contributions to their local community, instead of on a (racial/ethnic/religious) minority-bloc model. I’m agnostic on whether the more common model (minority blocs) is good or bad, but I think it’s refreshing and exciting to see a candidate have the opportunity to represent himself by virtue of his civic identity and experience as part of the fabric of his local community.

Perhaps this underscores that, slowly but surely, the common divisions we assume in our communities are shifting, as are notions of equality, representation, and opportunity. I don’t mean to explain away or undermine the lack of socioeconomic/class diversity in this area, but it seems pretty astounding to me that the press discussing Bhalla largely focuses on his unique experience as an American. The coverage does not challenge his identity as a Sikh-American. This is a very different narrative than the traditional dialogue around Sikhs as perpetual foreigners, or non-American others.


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2 Responses to “Ravi Bhalla advances in Hoboken City Council elections”

  1. After reading the article, I feel that I need more information on the topic. Could you suggest some more resources please?

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  2. After reading the article, I feel that I need more information on the topic. Could you suggest some more resources please?
    p.s. Year One is already on the Internet and you can watch it for free.