Ravinder Bhalla won the Hoboken mayoral election in the six-person race, becoming the first Sikh mayor in New Jersey on Tuesday, November 7. Endorsed by current Mayor Dawn Zimmer, Bhalla has been involved with the City Council since 2009 and has been a member of the Hoboken community since around 1999. His campaign focused primarily on local issues, including improvements to infrastructure, protecting the city from another Superstorm Sandy, and fiscal responsibility.
Bhalla emerged victorious, despite racist flyers that connected him to terrorism.
“These flyers, as reprehensible as they are, are not representative of the city of Hoboken. We’re a very diverse and welcoming community in Hoboken, and I’m honored to have the privilege of serving as the next mayor,” said Bhalla to MSNBC.
In terms of visibility at Stevens, Bhalla was the first mayoral candidate to visit Stevens College Democrats during their general body meeting (GBM) earlier this semester. He discussed hot-button issues to Stevens students, including water main breaks, construction on Washington Street and Hoboken in general, and the to-be-built Gianforte Family Academic Center. There was also a discussion regarding bringing Stevens students into engineering projects to mitigate flooding issues and more.
Stevens’ own Vanessa Falco was also elected to City Council. Born and raised in Hoboken, Falco has been a member of the Hoboken community since she was born. Although she was under opposing mayoral candidate Mike DeFusco’s ticket she “looks forward to working with [Bhalla]” on the topics of “housing, employment opportunities, and minority representation” in Hoboken.
Falco described her role within the STEP department as “providing support” as she is “usually the first point of contact for students”.
On the topic of Stevens involvement in Hoboken, Falco said Stevens students are “very involved” in the community, and “an integral part of many facets in Hoboken, volunteerism, education, innovation, programs & partnerships, and economic stimulation.” She hopes to see more “collaborative efforts related to some of the significant challenges Hoboken faces such as Technology Integration, Flooding, Infrastructure, and Green Initiatives” and considers them “paramount for the Mayor and City Council.”
She does believe that “the growth at Stevens translates to growth in Hoboken” and that Mayor-elect Bhalla should continue to “develop and nurture” the relationship between Stevens and the Hoboken community. She says, “we live in a tech-driven society and are at a huge advantage having Stevens here in Hoboken.”