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Who is Ravinder Bhalla? All you need to know about first Sikh mayor in US

Just days before the city voted, flyers labelling the Sikh-American councilman a terrorist were spotted on car windscreens on November 3

BS Web Team  |  New Delhi 

Ravinder S Bhalla
Ravinder S Bhalla. Photo: Twitter Handle (@RaviBhalla)

on Tuesday became the first ever Sikh mayor of a US city when he won New Jersey’s in a closely contested six-person mayoral race. Bhalla, an Indian-American born in New Jersey was endorsed by current Mayor Dawn Zimmer.

After winning the election, thanked his supporters and said: " Thank you for having faith in me, for having faith in our community, faith in our state, and faith in our country; this is what America is all about."

Just days before the city voted, flyers labelling the Sikh-American councilman a terrorist were spotted on car windscreens on November 3. The flyer, in a large red font written over Bhalla’s picture, said: “Do not let TERRORISM take over our Town!.” The Indian-origin politician hit back at the troll, saying “you clearly don’t know what it means to be an American”.

Fighting Racism

Bhalla was elected on June 9, 2009, as a Councilman-at-Large for the City of Hoboken. Growing up as a Sikh American in 1970s New Jersey wasn’t easy for Bhalla. During his school days, he was bullied and racially discriminated, Bhalla had told NBC news. The childhood influenced his political beliefs and he fought publicly against racism. Bhalla has been working to have a discussion at the state and level against bullying in schools, especially the Sikh children who face more discrimination than other ethnicities.

Campaigning for Barack Obama in 2008

While talking to NBC news, Bhalla said he got inspired for public office during the 2008 US presidential election and closed his office for one week so that he and his brother could campaign for then-senator Barack Obama. They drove to New Hampshire in the middle of the winter and asked people to come out and vote.

Bhalla’s terms as city council president

During his tenure as Council President of the City of Hoboken, Bhalla worked to lower the tax burden of the people and saved several jobs at a local hospital and also reforming the way City Hall serves the people and acquiring open space for the residents of Hoboken.

Bhalla want to be known as Hoboken’s infrastructure Mayor

aims to improve the infrastructure of the Hoboken and subsidise the ferry ride from Hoboken to New York City to make it a more affordable transit option. He pledges to continue to balance the budget, avoiding structural deficits, lowering municipal taxes for Hoboken taxpayers, and maintaining a surplus or “rainy day” fund that is adequate to protect the city in unanticipated emergencies.

First Published: Thu, November 09 2017. 14:45 IST