The South Asian Registration Initiatives, an organization that works to encourage political education and engagement in the South Asian community, hosted a celebration in honor of Vin Gopal, the youngest person and first-ever Indian American elected to the New Jersey state Senate.
Over 200 people attended the Nov. 17 SARI event, which was held at the Monroe Adult Day Care Center in Millstone Township, New Jersey. Gopal won the election by more than 4,000 votes, defeating long-time incumbent Jennifer Beck.
“It is time for new leadership to tackle New Jersey's grave fiscal problems to help small business owners and hard-working middle-class families,” said Gopal in a thank-you address to his volunteers and supporters.
He added that Monmouth County needs a senator who will take on insiders in Trenton, rather than work for only a few people.
“I will be your senator who will spend every day fighting to lower property taxes, one who will work constantly to eliminate the red tape imposed on small businesses and fight against raising minimum wage increase, which will destroy small business owners in New Jersey,” said Gopal.
“As your senator, I will spend every day fighting against Trenton insiders and fighting for the needs of working people. That is my pledge to the residents of Monmouth County."
He also said he would fight for funding for women’s health care policies.
Assemblymembers Eric Houghtaling, Joann Downey and Raj Mukherji attended the celebration
and urged attendees to remain engaged in the fight against discrimination and elect more South Asians at all levels. Edison Township Councilman Ajay Patil, Passaic County Freeholder John Bartlett and South Brunswick Board of Education member Deven Patel were among the local elected officials in attendance.
In his welcome address, chair of SARI Ritesh Shah noted that voter turnout in Monmouth County’s South Asian community was three times greater than in previous election years and debunked the myth that Asian communities don’t participate in the political process. He said in the months leading to Gopal’s election, SARI organized a huge voter registration drive, a phone bank and a series of GOTV campaigns that were integral to Gopal’s victory.
“Our work is not over but just begun as we must continue to engage in a grass root level to volunteer for the community and political process to make a difference,” said Shah.
Amit Jani, who works as an outreach director for Asian American and Pacific Islander communities for Governor-elect Phil Murphy, thanked everyone for their support in electing state and local officials in New Jersey.