Three Indian-American women were elected June 10 to serve as chairs for their townships’ Democratic committee in Union County, New Jersey, breaking a well-known barrier for minority women from entering the male-dominated field of politics.
The three –Anjali Mehrotra, Rupa Kale and Rupa Motwani – will be on the 21-member Union County Democratic Committee, according to an Insider NJ press release.
It noted that despite census data demonstrating that Indian Americans constitute the largest Asian ethnic group in the state, there has been slow movement in equal representation across elected positions in local and state government, but over the past several years, that tide has been shifting, and now with the election of these three women that barrier became a little lower in Union County.
“I am excited for our Democratic organization and grateful for this opportunity to serve the party in my town and at the county level. We often call the Democratic Party ‘the big tent’ and nothing underscores that message better than having diverse faces represented in its leadership,” Anjali Mehrotra, elected Chair of the Mountainside Democratic Committee, said. “I’m thrilled to have these two women with me as we take our seat at the table,” she added.
Both Mehrotra and Rupa Kale ran for Borough Council in their respective towns in 2018. They both faced a challenging task taking on established incumbents in Republican-controlled towns that had not seen any Democratic activity in decades until the 2017 cycle. Mehrotra came close with 48 percent of the vote, whereas Kale came up short by merely 0.6 percent.
Reflecting on her experience Kale, elected Chair of the New Providence Democratic Committee, said she strongly believes that if one wants to strengthen one’s community, one has to insert oneself into the roots of the community.
“From being a borough council candidate last year that came very close to winning to now being elected Chairwoman in New Providence has been an amazing honor. I am excited about the opportunity and look forward to serving the needs of all Democrats in New Providence,” she said.
Rupa Motwani, elected Chair of the Westfield Democratic Committee, helped lead the get out the vote effort for the municipal election of 2017, which resulted in a Democratic majority in Westfield for the first time in 15 years. She is the Campaign Director for the four 2019 council races.
“It’s important for minorities to get involved at all levels of representative government in order to ensure their voices become integrated into the American chorus. I am excited to harness the energy in Westfield to create a lasting Democratic footprint in the town – one where we are always faced with an embarrassment of riches – riches of committee members, candidates, volunteers, and most importantly, votes,” she said.
Union County Democratic Chair, Senator Nick Scutari, said, “One of Union County’s greatest strengths has always been our diversity. I congratulate Anjali, Rupa and Rupa on being elected leaders within the party, and I look forward to working with them to continue building towards a more inclusive and reflective Democratic Party in Union County.”