History Made as Elected Officials Sworn In

Hoboken Mayor Ravinder Bhalla being sworn in by Sen. Cory Booker. (Photo via Twitter)

News India Times’ Ela Dutt looks at the “promising year ahead” for Indian-Americans in the tri-state area following progress made by the community in 2017.

Nearly two months after Ravinder Bhalla made headlines for becoming the first Sikh elected to a mayoral seat in New Jersey – and one of the first nationwide – he was sworn in on Jan. 1. He signed his first executive order:

…designating Hoboken as a “Fair and Welcoming City,” gave a rousing speech to some 700 people, and recalled how far the state had come from the “Dot Busters” attacks of 1987.

Vin Gopal, the first Indian-American elected to the New Jersey state Senate, will be sworn in on Jan. 9.

For much more on accomplishments among Indian-Americans last year in politics, social services, and the arts, and what’s ahead for the community, read the full story at News India Times.

Councilman-at-Large Rolando R. Lavarro, Jr. takes his oath administered by Judge Carlo Abad as wife Veronica, daughter Gabbie and his parents Drs. Lavarro look on. (Photo via the Filipino Reporter)

In nearby Jersey City, Jan. 1 marked another first, this time for the Filipino community. In a story on the swearing-in ceremony of Mayor Steven Fulop and City Council members, including Councilman-at-large Rolando R. Lavarro Jr. who is serving his third term, Filipino Reporter’s Manny Caballero noted:

For the first time in the city’s political history, a Filipino judge, Carlo Abad, Chief Judge of Jersey City Municipal Court, administered the oath of office to a fellow Filipino-American, Lavarro.

From left: Hon. Rachel Freier, Hon. Elena Baron and Hon. Odessa Kennedy. (Photo by Rob Abruzzese via Brooklyn Daily Eagle)

On Dec. 20 Hon. Elena Baron was sworn in at Borough Hall as the first Russian-born Brooklyn Civil Court judge, reports Rob Abruzzese for Brooklyn Daily Eagle.

Baron, who immigrated to the U.S. from the Soviet Union 24 years ago, was sworn-in by Judge Rachel Freier, the first elected Hasidic Jewish judge, and was officially robed by Judge Odessa Kennedy, the first elected Iranian-born judge.

In her speech, Baron spoke of how her experiences in her native country drove her to pursue a career in the law.

“In my adopted homeland, America, everyday regular people come to court seeking justice to right a wrong in their daily lives. In the Soviet Union, nothing like our court system existed. Being surrounded by the horrors and injustice in the former Soviet Union drove me practice of law in the pursuit of justice as my chosen career.”

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