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“We did it!!!” Indian-American Manka Dhingra wins Washington State Senate seat

Manka Dhingra, the first Indian-American, of Sikh heritage, won a seat on the Washington State Senate from the 45th District in a special election. Her victory gives a majority to the Democratic Party in the legislature. Here she is seen giving her victory speech. (Photo: Facebook)

An Indian-American running for Washington state Senate from the 45th District, won her seat Nov. 7.

Manka Dhingra, former senior deputy prosecuting attorney with the King County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office, won in the special election for the District 45 seat, to become the first Indian-American to win a seat in the state legislature, and also the first of Sikh ancestry to do so.

For the Democratic Party, which heavily backed Dhingra’s race, this is a major win for the as it flips the state Senate majority in their favor putting all three states on the West Coast in the hands of the Dems.

In an interview in May with this correspondent, Dhingra said she decided to run for office after the presidential election when she personally witnessed the fear felt by minorities in her district.

Dhingra who fought on a platform of increasing funding to education, mental health, violence prevention, and protecting the rights of women, declared her run in February when the seat came vacant upon the death of Republican Andy Hill from lung cancer.

“We did it!!! Thank you to each and every one of you!” Dhingra announced on Facebook.

According to Seattlepi.com, Dhingra took a 10-point lead early on in the vote count, over her over Republican opponent Jinyoung Englund.

As Indian-Americans, including Sikhs, celebrated the victory of Hoboken’s Ravinder Bhalla’s as Mayor, a former senior Obama administration official, Gautam Raghavan  tweeted — “And a Sikh woman named @ElectManka just won her special election and flipped the WA state legislature for Dems. Yes e can,” echoing President Obama’s  slogan for change.Dhingra’s election website electmanka.com, highlights work with the State Department of Social and Human Services, the Washington Association of Prosecuting Attorneys, legislators, and the Governor’s office to ensure individuals get the needed treatment.

She is considered a mental health and crisis intervention expert, and  has during her career, provided training to law enforcement personnel and recently started a collaborative effort with King County law enforcement agencies to coordinate response and help avoid tragedy; She also worked directly with Harborview Hospital, mental health professionals and the courts to improve criminal justice outcomes for mentally ill individuals—seeking to close the revolving door of jail, homelessness, and crime.

Though Dhingra declared her run back in February, it has taken on added importance in light of several incidents of hate crime targeting members of the Sikh faith over the last couple of months.

Dhingra’s biography says she recognized early how often domestic violence in the South Asian community goes unreported.  She co-founded Chaya (now API Chaya) to counter “systemic” violence through education, prevention, and organizing.  She also served on the Seattle Police Department Muslim, Arab, and Sikh Advisory Council to address hate crime issues in the region in the wake of 9/11, the website says.

Dhingra is a board member of the National Alliance on Mental Illness- Eastside, and received the organization’s highest award earlier this year, according to her website.

She holds a JD from the University of Washington School of Law and Bachelor of Arts degrees in History and Political Science from the University of California at Berkeley.  She became a prosecutor with King County January 2000.

She is married to Harjit Singh, a “Distinguished Engineer” at SpaceX, and has two children.