Mahesh Bhagia: Candidate for Mayor of Edison, N.J.

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Mahesh Bhagia, candidate for Mayor of Edison, N.J. Photo courtesy Mahesh Bhagia

Edison, NJ – The Edison Democratic Organization in New Jersey recently nominated Mahesh Bhagia for Mayor of the township which is the fifth largest municipality in the state and boasts one of the largest concentrations of Indian-American residents.

The 20-year Edison resident will be the first Indian American to hold the position if elected in the Nov. 2, 2021, following the June 8 primaries where he will be facing off against other aspirants.

Bhagia is considered a strong candidate and frontrunner. In addition to the Edison Democratic Organization, several prominent groups, including the New Jersey Restaurant and Hospitality Association and the Eastern Atlantic States Regional Council of Carpenters have also endorsed Bhagia.

In the community, Bhagia is considered a protégé of the late Ramesh Patel, chairman of the Federation of Indian Associations (NY/NJ FIA), and is seen as having a history of serving his community, among them a petition drive to stop a 7.5% tax increase that the local government planned to pass during the COVID-19 pandemic, for which Bhagia told Desi Talk in a recent interview, thousands of residents signed on.

“Passing a tax increase on residents during this pandemic was not the right thing to do,” Bhagia.  “Businesses are closed, residents are out of work, times are tough. So we led a coalition of residents, and opposed the planned tax increase.”

“We have also mobilized neighborhoods against overdevelopment and unsafe truck traffic,” Bhagia said.

In addition, Bhagia has led efforts to implement a variety of programs to help seniors, including distribution of free leaf bags around the town

When the financial devastation of the COVID-19 pandemic began to affect Edison families, Bhagia organized a large mobile food pantry where local residents could obtain a week’s worth of groceries, no questions asked.  He also began distributing PPE to residents, local hospitals, and first responders.

Mahesh Bhagia, candidate for Mayor of Edison, N.J., standing. Sitting, from left, Edison City Council candidates Sparshil Patel, Shoonon Peng, Thomas McCann. Photo Courtesy – Mahesh Bhagia

Bhagia entered the political field by accident, he recalls

What had begun as an effort to address neighborhood issues, unsafe roadways, and questionable use of taxpayer money, blossomed into a desire to make necessary systematic changes to benefit Edison as a whole, Bhagia said.

Party loyalists and the community witnessed his ability to secure support at the Edison Democratic Organization’s convention, where he defeated a rival, getting 101 votes to 32 votes.  A third candidate, ex-councilwoman Sapana Shah, a lawyer in Jersey City, received 7 votes.

Bhagia considers his emphasis and appreciation for diversity as being one of his strongest and most vital assets.

With about 40% of Edison’s population hailing from India, and Bhagia himself being a “proud Indian- American” he sees it as crucial that fair and equitable representation not go unnoticed.

Having been born in India and immigrating to the United States for better opportunities, Bhagia says he has a personal understanding of what it means to truly work hard and make sacrifices for the betterment of entire families, ultimately better understanding the needs and interests of Edison’s diverse population.

Mahesh Bhagia, candidate for Mayor of Edison, N.J., right, initiated a drive to distribute leaf-bags to seniors. Photo: courtesy Mahesh Bhagia.

“I have decided to run for Mayor because Edison needs a leader who will put Edison and our residents first,” Bhagia says.

“Edison is a great community, and we have all the pieces to succeed, great geography, passionate and compassionate residents, a history of innovation, a diverse cultural fabric, and a wonderful small business community,” he said, ticking off the positives.

“But we need to act now to create a cohesive vision for Edison that provides us with an open and transparent government, stable taxes and better services. That is what has been missing, and that is what my administration will offer.”

That’s what he plans to do if elected Mayor.

Mahesh Bhagia, left, led a food drive for needy families in Edison, N.J. during the pandemic. Photo: courtesy Mahesh Bhagia

“I pledge that my administration will be fully transparent, that I will be accessible, and that, even as we focus on the larger picture, we will never forget the everyday services that residents have every right to expect.  Clean water, reliable garbage and recycling services, drivable roads, usable parks and recreation, and public safety,” Bhagia told Desi Talk.

Bhagia’s professional experience includes serving as a Chief Operating Officer for a successful Hospitality Group. He has also been in a VP position in a Fortune 500 financial tech company.

He earned a Bachelor’s of Science degree in Electronic Engineering from Pune University, and attended Pace University in New York City, where he then got his Masters’ degree in Computer Science.

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