Sikh Councilman Inspired By Obama Beat the Odds In Hoboken

November 12, 2009

Author: Karen Angel

Source: New York Daily News

President Obama was his inspiration.

It was after Obama was elected the United States' first black President that Ravinder Singh Bhalla decided Hoboken was ready to elect its first Sikh councilman.

"That election made me believe the country has reached a phase where qualifications matter more than race," said Bhalla, 36, who, according to the Sikh Coalition, is one of just two Sikhs holding elected office nationwide.

Bhalla ran on acting Hoboken Mayor Dawn Zimmer's ticket and was elected councilman at large by a wide margin in June, taking office July 1. He received the most votes of 11 other candidates — despite the fact that Hoboken's registered voter population is less than 1% Asian and the city is home to only about 10 Sikhs, including his wife, Navneet, a human rights lawyer, and their 2-year-old daughter, Arza.