While the United States (and most of the rest of the world as well) waits anxiously for the results of its presidential election, other, smaller races have already been confirmed. And in the elections for the New York State Assembly, the group of representatives just added some desi flavour, with Zohran Kwame Mamdani, a Democrat, running unopposed and winning from Astoria, a neighbourhood in Queens, New York City. A first-time candidate, Mamdani is 28 years old and the son of Indian filmmaker Mira Nair and Ugandan academic Mahmood Mamdani.
It's official: we won.
I'm going to Albany to fight to tax the rich, heal the sick, house the poor & build a socialist New York.
But I can't do it alone. To win socialism, we'll need a mass movement of the multiracial working class as well.
— Zohran Kwame Mamdani (@ZohranKMamdani) November 4, 2020
His mixed African and South Asian heritage, as well as his time spent living in Uganda, where he was born, made him a fitting choice to represent the people of Queens, a neighbourhood populated by many immigrants. While announcing his victory, Mamdani said he was going to spend his time in office working on ways to “tax the rich, heal the sick, house the poor & build a socialist New York.” Along with Jennifer Rajkumar, Mamdani will be one of the first two Indian-Americans elected to the New York State Assembly.
There are more than 300,000 South Asians in New York City, and this is the first time the community has elected a desi representative. Democrats Zohran Mamdani and Jenifer Rajkumar will represent parts of Queens that are largely made up of immigrants.https://t.co/fm4H7MQiZN
— NBC Asian America (@NBCAsianAmerica) November 4, 2020
Before he formally entered politics, Mamdani also worked as a housing counsellor for a non-profit organisation named Chhaya CDC, which helped poorer citizens to fight eviction from their homes. But he was better known as Mr Cardamom, which was his rapper name. Last year, Mamdani’s music video for “Nani”, starring the evergreen actress Madhur Jaffrey went viral, as much due to Mamdani’s rap as Jaffrey’s infectious charm, even at 85 years old.
— Dolly Kikon (@DollyKikon) November 4, 2020
The fact that Mahmood Mamdani’s son is a rapper-politician https://t.co/xhuaH1BphD
— ماہم (@lightermachis) November 4, 2020
Mamdani’s term will begin in January next year, but he must likely have been preparing for this moment for months already. In June 2019, he beat long-serving incumbent Aravella Simotas to win the Democractic primary and receive the ticket. In this election, running unopposed under his slogan of “Roti and Roses” in a district with a significant South Asian presence, his victory was virtually in the bag.
Newcomer Zohran Mamdani ran unopposed in the general election after defeating Assembly Member Aravella Simotas in the June primary. https://t.co/DQZyZNAApZ
— Astoria/LIC Patch (@AstoriaPatch) November 4, 2020
Mamdani will serve as a Member of the New York State Assembly for two years in his first term.