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November 08, 2017

On Election Day, racist mailers don't stop victories for three targeted N.J. candidates

Election 2017 Racism
110217_Edisonmailer Sam Kahn/Facebook

Divisive mailer sent out by unknown group days before local elections in Edison Township.

Despite racist flyers circulating in their communities, three targeted New Jersey candidates won elections in their respective races Tuesday.

Notable among them is Ravi Bhalla, who will become the very first Sikh mayor in the state of New Jersey after winning the race in Hoboken.

Last Friday, flyers with a photo of Bhalla were circulated in Hoboken with the words, “Don’t let TERRORISM take over our town!” His opponent Michael DeFusco decried the flyers and denied any potential link between them and his campaign.

Bhalla, an Indian-American born in New Jersey, was endorsed by Hoboken’s current mayor, Dawn Zimmer.

Following his victory, reports Bhalla told a crowded bar of his supporters: “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. We’ve been through a bruising campaign … but now is the time we come together and see who we can work with to bring this country forward.”

In Edison, New Jersey, two incumbent school board candidates also were confronted with racist rhetoric during campaign season.

The faces of candidates Jingwei “Jerry” Shi and Falguni Patel were plastered on a mailer distributed in Edison, alongside the words “Make Edison Great Again.” Below their pictures, the mailer read, “The Chinese and Indians are taking over our town! Chinese school! Indian school! Cricket fields! Enough is enough!”

The mailers sparked outrage among many, and on Election Day both Shi and Patel secured two of the three Township Public School board seats, according to unofficial results from

The victories garnered support and celebratory remarks on social media.