indica News Bureau-
Four Indian Americans — a history-making Muslim woman and a former White House technology policy advisor — won state and local elections on Tuesday.
Indian American Ghazala Hashmi, a former community college professor, made history by becoming first Muslim woman to be elected to the Virginia state Senate, while Suhas Subramanyam, who served as White House technology policy advisor to President Barack Obama, has been elected to the Virginia state House of Representative.
In her first run for elective office, Hashmi, a Democrat, defeated incumbent Republican state Sen. Glen Sturtevant in Virginia’s 10th Senate District, drawing a national attention.
“This victory is not mine alone. It belongs to all of you who believed that we needed to make progressive change here in Virginia, for all of you who felt that you haven’t had a voice and believed in me to be yours in the General Assembly,” she said after her historic victory.
Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, the first woman presidential candidate for a major political party, congratulated her on her historic victory. “I also want to shout out @Hashmi4Va, the first Muslim woman elected to the VA State Senate. As she said yesterday, her victory “belongs to all of you who believed that we needed to make progressive change here in Virginia, for all of you who felt that you haven’t had a voice.”,” Clinton tweeted.
Hashmi, who moved to the US from India as a young girl with her family fifty years ago, thanked Clinton. “I am deeply honored by your words, Secretary Clinton. You broke so many glass ceilings for women in public service,” Hashmi said
Hashmi was raised in a small town in Georgia and saw firsthand how community-building and open dialogue can bridge cultural and socioeconomic divisions, uniting people from all walks of life. She earned a BA in English from Georgia Southern University and a Ph.D. from Emory University.
She and her husband, Azhar, moved to the Richmond, Virginia, area in 1991. Hashmi has spent the past 25 years as a leading educator in Virginia’s college and university system. She serves as the Founding Director of the Center for Excellence in Teaching and Learning (CETL) at Reynolds Community College.
“After flipping the Senate, I’ll have Democrats by my side to fight to protect Virginians from the climate crisis and senseless gun violence, and work to expand our access to affordable health care and funding for public education. I can’t wait to work together in the state Senate,” Hashmi said.
Suhas Subramanyam entered the Virginia State House of Representatives from the Indian American dominated district of Loudon and Prince Williams. “My promise to the people of Loudoun and Prince William: I will always listen to you, work tirelessly for you, and do everything I can to empower you. The campaign is over, but my work for you has just begun,” he said.
Subramanyam’s mother, a native of Bengaluru, India, immigrated to the United States in 1979. She landed at Dulles Airport in the Washington, D.C., area to start a new life where she would become a physician and raise a family. She united with Suhas’s father, who was born in India and raised by the widow of a deceased army veteran.
Subramanyam served on Capitol Hill as a health care and veterans policy aide and spent time as a technology and regulatory attorney. Former US President Barack Obama named him his White House technology policy advisor. In this capacity, Subramanyam led a task force on technology policy that Obama charged with addressing some of the country’s most challenging technology issues, including job creation and displacement in the technology sector, regulating emerging technology, and addressing cybersecurity and IT modernization in the public sector.
In California, Indian American Mano Raju won re-election to remain San Francisco’s Public Defender. Raju grew up a child of Indian parents from Tamil Nadu who immigrated to the United States to give their children a better life.
Raju’s mother was committed to staying connected to their family back in India. As a result, Mano learned about inequity at an early age as he returned to his parents’ village in Tamil Nadu and witnessed firsthand how the scales of justice were tipped against his family and community by global economic trends, educational inequity, water scarcity, and the caste system.
Mano attended Columbia University as an undergraduate where he researched Critical Race Theory under Professor Kendall Thomas. After an influential fellowship at the Oxford Center for African Studies, he relocated to Berkeley in the 90s to pursue his Masters in South Asian Studies and later his JD at Berkeley School of Law, where he interned in the San Francisco Public Defender’s Office.
In North Carolina, incumbent Dimple Ajmera won a convincing re-election to Charlotte City Council. A former Certified Public Accountant, Ajmera immigrated to the US from India along with her parents when she was 16, At that time, she spoke no English. Proving her tenacity, she went on to graduate from the University of Southern California (USC) and later became a Certified Public Accountant (CPA). Ajmera broke the glass ceiling with her historic victory in 2017.