Talk of the town: Two radically different cities elect an Indian-American for Mayor

Edison, N.J. Councilman Sam Joshi, 2nd from right, meeting with constituents. Photo: courtesy Sam Joshi

In hotly contested races for two important cities, one of them among the most multicultural in the country, an Indian-American came out the winner.

Edison, New Jersey and Cincinnati, Ohio could not be more different, yet they both will boast an Indian-American Mayor come January.

The two young men who will lead these radically different cities shows the political maturity with which Indian-Americans merge with their constituencies and varying demographics, to make their case at the grassroots, and emerge as winners.

Sam Joshi becomes the first Indian-American to be Mayor of Edison, the 5th largest municipality in New Jersey, and Aftab Pureval takes over as Mayor of Cincinnati following reports of unofficial results of Nov. 2, 2021, elections around the country. reported Joshi, a Democrat, was “well ahead” of his two competitors with 96 percent of the precincts reporting night of Nov. 2. Joshi was running against Republican Keith Hahn and independent candidate Christo Makropoulos.

Joshi has been serving as the Vice President of the Town Council, and during his campaign he promised to stabilize taxes, invest in infrastructure, and stop ‘overdevelopment’, launch municipal broadband, and celebrate Edison’s diversity fighting discrimination and hate crime.

Joshi’s popularity was evident n June this year, when during the primaries, he defeated another Indian-American aspirant Mahesh Bhagia by 63 percent of the votes to 34 percent, despite Bhagia being the municipal chair of the Democrats.

A ‘son of the soil’, Joshi was born and raised in Edison.

 Joshi was elected as an at-large Councilmember at 27 years old, making him the youngest elected official in Edison’s history.

Since joining the Edison Township Council in 2017, Joshi’s biography on his website says, he has worked to keep taxes low, helped women and minority owned businesses get on their feet, and promoted green energy throughout the township.

Among the mansy voluntary services he has been involved in, is as an Edison Police 9-1-1 Telecommunicator from 2010-2011, at the Central Command Office for all public safety calls, including police, fire, and EMS, providing first responders with additional information on each call.

He also served on the Fair Rental Housing Authority Board from 2010-2015 and the Edison Zoning Board from 2016 until he was elected to the Edison Township Council.

Aftab Pureval, candidate for mayor of Cincinnati. Photo: Facebook

Thirty nine year old Aftab Pureval won the mayorship of Cincinnati defeating David Mann, a fellow Democrat and town councilor, according to unofficial results, by 66-34 percent.

The son of Indian and Tibetan immigrants, Pureval becomes the first Indian-American and Tibetan, in fact, the first Asian to be elected Mayor of the city. Currently, he is Hamilton County Clerk of Courts, a position not held by a Democrat for more than 100 years.

“Words can’t express how honored and excited I am to be the next Mayor of Cincinnati. Tonight, we made history! Let’s get to work!” Pureval tweeted as the results became public.

Congratulations poured in including from the likes of former Secretary of State and presidential candidate Hillary Clinton and U.S. Sen. Sherrod, D-Ohio, who had supported Pureval.

“Win or lose, fighting for what’s right is always worth it. Congratulations to @ericadamsfornyc, @wutrain,  @shontelmbrown, and @aftabpureval for historic wins …” Clinton tweeted.

Sen. Brown tweeted, “Congratulations to #canarycandidate @AftabPureval on your victory. He represents the future of Cincinnati and will fight for all workers and families in the Queen City.”

Born and brought up in Ohio, Pureval is an attorney and former prosecutor. He has been awarded the NAACP Theodore Berry Award for Service and has been recognized by the Business Courier as one of their 40 under 40.

Pureval is seen as a rising star in the Democratic Party. In May 2018, he won the Democratic primary unopposed in his party’s bid to turn a Red seat Blue when he ran and lost in his race against incumbent Republican Rep. Steve Chabot. President Obama was among those who endorsed his candidacy then.




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