‘We Bleed American’ says Mayor-elect of Edison, N.J., one of the most diverse cities in the country

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Mayor-elect of Edison, N.J. Sam Joshi, speaking during an interview with ITV Gold Nov. 15, 2021. Photo ITV Gold

Sam Joshi, 32, has ‘rolled his sleeves up’ and is ready to hit the ground running when he is sworn in as Mayor of Edison, New Jersey this January.

In an exclusive interview with ITV Gold, Joshi outlined his plans, most of them already in the making as he consults with different branches of the town administration

This Nov. 2, 2021, Joshi made history as the first Indian-American elected mayor of the fifth largest city in the state, and one of the most multicultural.

Edison Township, which falls in the ambit of the large New York City metropolitan region, has a population of just over 100,000 and houses a vibrant Little India on Oaktree Road, boasting the highest concentration of Indian-Americans and people of Indian and South Asian origin in the country. More than 40 percent of the population of the Township is of Asian descent.

He wants Edison to be proud of its diversity, and each and every one of the cultures he says, is going to be top-of-mind for him with equal standing.

A ‘son of the soil’ who was born and brought up in Edison, Joshi told ITV Gold his highest priorities were reducing the tax burden, controlling overdevelopment, and launching broadband.

“We have to have managed gfowth, smart growth,” and stagger development, and adopt those that are ‘reasonable and fair to residents.”

As to the timeline for accomplishing his goals, Joshi said his team has a ‘very large’ agenda. For example, education alone has some significant challenges everywhere one goes.

“The solution is you work with the entire team to address concerns,” he said. But he is confident. “Majority of the Council is with me,” including the outgoing Mayor Thomas Lankey, and the Board of Education. He expects everyone to work on the same page.

“I have not seen such conformity in the past,” Joshi said, adding that he was working directly with Mayor Lankey to get the agenda off and running.

Among his education plans is the building of a new school, partly because of the overcrowding and alleged enrollment of students who are not from the area.

“We need a new school to be built. We have identified multiple locations,” he said, adding that he has met with the Board of Education members to discuss how to pay for it.  But “If Woodbridge and Carteret can do it, so can we.” He was referring to two other townships in Middlesex County.

Joshi said he is soon going to announce his transition team and within the first hundred days, they will start publicizing the locations identified for the new school, and the payment plans. He called it “a win-win situation.”

With the passage of the $1.2 trillion Infrastructure Bill at the federal level, Joshi expects the money to reach his constituency in a couple years, by 2023, he estimated, and lauded the fact that it included funding for Broadband, one of his top priorities.

Significant challenges face Edison, he said, including the water and sewer system that goes with an aging infrastructure which had not been attended to in decades, he said.

“The need to invest in these is significant.” The Infrastructure Bill passing will significantly help to prevent higher taxes, he noted.

He also touched on tourism as a great opportunity for Edison, and has already met with business leaders on a blueprint which is part of his Master Plan.

Joshi outlined the work he has been doing with youth over many years, including starting the Edison Youth Service Corps, which allows young people in schools to shadow different departments in city administration, learn how to work with individuals in their area of interest, as a building block to the future.

“As Mayor I guarantee this (youth corps) will be the largest program in Edison,” Joshi declared. There were things youth needed to learn and experience about government and what better place to start.

Having grown up as a son of immigrants who struggled when he was child, to make sure of a future, “I want to make sure that everyone is welcomed just as I was.”

Joshi has been serving as the Council Vice President in Edison, elected to that body at the age of 27 as the youngest elected official in Edison’s history. He was endorsed in his race by all the heavy hitters from Gov. Phil Murphy down, and including Sen. Bob Menendez, Sen. Cory Booker, and Congressman Frank Pallone. He ousted his competitor during the primaries, another Indian-American Mahesh Bhagia.

According to his LinkedIn profile, Joshi attended John. P. Stevens High School, and graduated from Rutgers University in Labor Studies and Political Science. He co-founded Loansribe which dealt with refinancing student loans. He was Division Manager and then Executive Vice President of SD Capital Funding for more than 9 years starting in 2012. He is a member of the Board of Directors of The Jewish Renaissance Foundation.

Joshi spoke emotionally about his personal journey. Born and raised in Edison, he said, “Edison is part of my blood. I embrace all races and religions. That is something we should be proud of.”

“We bleed American,” he said, with more cultures to learn from, something one would not be able to do in any other part of the country.

In Edison, he said, he wanted every demographic “to have a voice.”

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