Indian-Americans, South Asians in Greater-TriState area make some electoral gains


Candidates for elected office in the greater Tri-state area including Pennsylvania, made gains during the Nov. 8, 2022, midterm elections. Incumbents made it back to the State and municipal offices, and a few first-timers were added to the cohort.

The tristate area is home to a significant number of Indian-American voters. Several incumbents however, did not have to run in the Midterms, but those who had to, returned to office.

NY State Senator Jeremy Cooney. Photo: Facebook @SenatorCooney

New York

Senator Jeremy Cooney won back his seat in the New York State Senate with 54 percent of the vote in District 56.

Cooney was adopted from an orphanage in Kolkata, and raised by a single mother in the City of Rochester. He made history in 2020 as the first Asian American elected to state office from upstate New York, and the first state senator in decades to graduate from Rochester City School District (RCSD), says his biography on the NY Senate website.

He has a strong record in office, writing more than 50 legislative bills and serving as First Chair of the new Cities II Committee which focuses on upstate cities and those outside NYC. Senator Cooney was named co-chair of the Marijuana Task Force for the Black, Puerto Rican, Hispanic & Asian Legislative Caucus and he was instrumental in passing landmark legislation to legalize adult-use recreational marijuana.

His priorities for Rochester include poverty relief, job creation, downtown development, and increased funding for public schools. He was included in City & State magazine’s “40 Under 40” list and the “Power of Diversity: Asian 100” powerful leaders list for 2021.

Senator Cooney earned his B.A. with honors from Hobart College and his J.D. from Albany Law School. He is married to Dr. Diane Lu, a urologic surgeon at the University of Rochester Medical Center.

NY State Assemblywoman speaking on floor of State Assembly March 8, 2022 for International Women’s Day. Photo: Facebook videograb @Jenifer Kumar

Assemblywoman Jenifer Rajkumar, an incumbent who has been representing District 38 is a lawyer with a storied past fighting for civil rights. She is the first Indian-American woman to win elected office at State level in New York.   A graduate of Stanford Law School and the University of Pennsylvania, Rajkumar’s parents immigrated to the United States and settled in Queens where they got their start.

Born and raised in New York, Rajkumar is known for passing a milestone legislative package that gives domestic workers the full protections of New York State Human Rights Law. She passed a landmark bill establishing New York State’s first-ever Asian American & Pacific Island (AAPI) Commission. As a strong advocate for public safety, Jenifer passed a bill to expand compensation for victims of crime, which the Governor signed into law.

She was a Senior Advisor to the Transition Team of New York City Mayor Eric Adams.

Prior to her election to the State Legislature, she served as Director of Immigration Affairs for New York State.

State Senator Kevin Thomas was not up for re-election this year. His term ends in 2024.

New Jersey

New Jersey has several Indian-Americans in the State Legislature and none of them were up for re-election this November 8. Assemblymen Raj Mukherji and Sterley Stanley’s terms end in 2024; So does the term of State Assemblywoman Sadaf Jaffer; Sen. Vin Gopal will be up for re-election in 2024 as well.

Nearly 5 percent of New Jersey’s population is South Asian, largest of any state in the U.S. within which, Indian-Americans are the largest group, Iaimpact-nj notes.

There are close to 25 Indian-American School Board members in the state; 15 council members in various cities; 4 Mayors; and several county officials.

“From school board to the legislature, there are more South Asian elected officials in New Jersey than any other state,” according to Iaimpact. (See list at


Dr. Arvind Venkat won seat from District 30 in Pennsylvania to be in State Senate. Photo: Facebook @Venkat4PA

Newcomers Arvind Venkat and Tarik Khan won their seats to the Pennsylvania State House. Venkat who now represents District 30, garnered 55.2 percent of the vote to his Republican opponent Cindy Kirk’s 44.8 percent; Khan secured a whopping 90.8 percent of the vote from District 194.

State Assemblyman Dr. Arvind Venkat, is an emergency care physician.  “As an ER doc, I care for any patient that comes through the doors of the hospital, no questions asked. I have always believed that the ER should not only treat patients in crisis, but also work to address the health issues facing our community,” he says on his election website.

He also serves on the McCandless-Franklin Park Ambulance Authority.

He is credited with helping develop innovative programs in the ER to improve healthcare delivery, including providing flu vaccinations at the ER, connecting those with opioid use disorders with treatment, and educating clinicians about caring for those on the autism spectrum.

For five years, Dr. Venkat has been President of the statee emergency physicians’ organization. He said he was running for the State House “because we need a representative who has served our community through crises big and small and will use these experiences to advocate for everyone in the district.”

State Assemblyman Tarik Khan is a frontline nurse. He was born and raised in Philadelphia by a Muslim father originally from Pakistan, and a Catholic mother from Northwest Philadelphia who inspired him to take up nursing as a profession.

Tarik Khan, Pennsylvania state representative, with Top Chef host Padma Lakshmi. Photo: Facebook @Tarik Khan

“It’s because of my mom that nearly 2 decades ago I decided to become a nurse,” Khan says on his website.

“Working as a nurse for over sixteen years, I know our system is broken because I see it every day working with patients at the health center in my district,” he says.

“I see children coming in with asthma because they go to toxic schools. I see adults working 2-3 jobs to make ends meet after being in the workforce for decades. And I see patients who have delayed care for months or years because they were worried about going bankrupt or getting deported for seeking care,” Khan notes.

When the COVID pandemic hit home in Pennsylvania, Khan believes government leaders failed the people and left the most vulnerable communities to fend for themselves. “Workers and residents in nursing homes and homebound residents were left without any options for safety and recovery.”

Support from the electing public for Khan was overwhelming at more than 90 percent.


In the race for Treasurer of Connecticut, Republican Harry Arora, a State Representative whose term ends in January 2023, secured more than 45 percent of the vote, but lost to Democrat Erick Russel.



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