Shariq Ahmad, who was a former staffer for U.S. Sen. Bob Menendez and a chief-of-staff to Assemblyman Robert Karabinchak, has recently become chairman of the Edison Democratic Organization.
“We’d been trying to get him to come back home from DC for a while, but he seemed to enjoy being down there in the Senate. He’s a very talented guy, and now that we have him back, I’m proud that he’s on my team,” Karabinchak told the Observer.
Ahmad won by just one vote and took over the seat which was held by Edison Township police officer, Keith Hahn.
“I always knew from when I first came in that I was going to be a transitional guy. I think the party will be in good hands with Shariq moving forward,” Hahn told MyCentralJersey.com.
“He has a great relationship with the Mayor and Council and we are happy he came home to serve the residents of the 18th District,” Hahn said to the Observer.
Ahmad has always been a favorite of the Edison and Middlesex County communities and received a lot of support from the ethnic community as well. “I was approached by many different community leaders, groups and people in Edison and in the party to run,” he told nj.com.
“I’m excited, I want to do what I can to bring the different leaders in Edison together and I think I am uniquely positioned to do that because I have a good working relationship with people on all sides,” Ahmad told MyCentralJersey.com.
“I aim to help heal some of the wounds that have opened over the last few years,” he said to nj.com.
“Apparently, there was a lot of resistance to reelecting Keith,” Ahmad said as Hahn recently came under fire when he decided to remove Deborah Andrews, the only black committeewoman, from the June primary ballot.
She then called for a new chairman but instead, a petition for Krupa Patel was submitted by the Edison Democratic Organization for the seat and was notarized by Hahn.
Hahn said it was an accident and put Andrews’ name back on the ballot after a lawsuit was filed against him in Middlesex Superior Court.
Sapana Shah, a first-term councilwoman was thrilled to have Ahmad as the new chairman since Hahn refused to endorse her campaign when she ran for reelection. “He’s going to give Edison the edge in state-level politics. “He is a reflection of our committee,” she told nj.com.
Prior to becoming chairman, Ahmad was the committee’s vice chairman and he wants to push for the endorsement of more female candidates.
According to the Observer, Ahmad is currently the only South Asian chief-of-staff in the legislature and is at least the second Muslim to hold that position in the state’s history.
The Observer also said that Ahmad is viewed as a leader in both communities as he is pushing for more outreach and political engagement around the state, on their behalf.
“His value to the NJ Democratic State Committee’s South Asian American Caucus is immeasurable. He sits on the Board and steering committee, and is involved with organizing the South Asian American community at the State level,” Caucus co-chair Satish Poondi told the Observer.