Since Democratic primary elections usually determine the winner in the city, two Assembly primary winners will likely make history when they are sworn in this coming January.
Both Zohran Mamdani and Jenifer Rajkumar will be the first Assembly members of South Asian descent.
“My parents immigrated to the United States, to South Queens, with $300 and a suitcase from India,” said Rajkumar. “And they worked really hard. And I’m really proud to be the first South Asian woman ever to be elected in New York State, but not the last one!”
Rajkumar beat an incumbent in the 38th Assembly district in Queens. While the majority of the district is not South Asian, there is a sizable population there.
“This area of South Queens is overlooked and underserved,” said Rajkumar. “It actually has one of the top five lowest voting turnouts in the entire state. So, we were able to change that situation this cycle and actually triple turnout.”
Roughy 4% of the city’s population is South Asian, and if you count the Indo-Caribbean community, it’s even larger.
Zorhan Mamdani also won his primary, in Astoria Queens.
Both of his parents are of Indian descent, and Mamdani is also a practicing Muslim.
“Right now there is only one Muslim Assembly person, and only one Muslim State Senator,” said Mamdani. “When elected and sworn in January, I will be only the second Muslim to serve in the State Assembly.”
There are nearly 800,000 Muslims here in the city, or 9% of the population, and some believe it is even higher.
We asked Mamdani why that community is so underrepresented in state government.
“It comes from kind of two twin feelings for me, one is the excitement of breaking barriers for my community, the other is frustration and that this is very much an indictment of status quo politics,” Mamdani said. “That so many communities, including the Muslim community, the South Asian community, have been ignored and erased from our city and state’s political fabric.”
Not only are Muslims underrepresented In state government based on their population, but so are South Asians. There is just one other South Asian and he serves in the State Senate representing Long Island, not the city.
Photo: Zohran Mamdani/Facebook
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