Indian-American Ravi Bhalla has become the first Sikh mayor in New Jersey's history despite flyers that labelled him a "terrorist." Bhalla, a city council member in Hoboken, beat five other candidates after former mayor Dawn Zimmer stepped down in the summer.
The flyers, left on windshields of cars on Friday night, appeared to be a doctored version of the flyers sent out by another mayoral candidate, Mike DeFusco.
The original flyers accused Bhalla of having a conflict of interest, while the modified versions added "don't let TERRORISM take over our town," above a photo of Bhalla.
DeFusco was quick to condemn the flyers, adding that his campaign had nothing to do with them:
"Today I spoke out not only against the racist, disgusting flyers targeting Ravi Bhalla that appeared last night and was made to look like it came from my campaign, but also against the rest of the hate that has been shamefully displayed throughout this race."
Bhalla took the opportunity to thank supporters at a celebration last night:
"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 city forward."
While many on Twitter also celebrated his election.
Just two days ago, someone posted racist flyers around town calling Mayor Bhalla a terrorist because of how he looked. Ravi responded with grace and dignity -- and it's so good to see a man of integrity like him be rewarded.— Simran Jeet Singh (@SikhProf) November 8, 2017
Sikh American councilman, Ravi Bhalla elected Mayor in Hoboken, New Jersey. He is the FIRST Sikh ‘elected’ Mayor in American History. America belongs to ALL, no matter our race, religion or gender identity https://t.co/JTpuXVeify #election2017 pic.twitter.com/Yk6kXLQSVw— Harjinder S Kukreja (@SinghLions) November 8, 2017
Tonight Karma is a transgender woman, a black female Mayor, a turbaned Sikh Mayor, an Asian American elected official, a black LT Governor, a white man who ran on gun control after losing his girlfriend to gun violence. In other words, Karma is American.— Wajahat Ali (@WajahatAli) November 8, 2017
A sikh mayor in Hoboken. A black woman in Charlotte. A transgender woman VA Delegate in Manassas and 2 Latinas in Prince William. A socialist in Richmond.— Will Jordan (@williamjordann) November 8, 2017
It was an eventful night.