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Indian-American wins Democratic nomination for top post in US County

PUNJAB NEWS LINE | May 18, 2023 05:37 PM

NEW YORK:Indian-American attorney and educator Neil Makhija has won the Democratic nomination for Montgomery County Commissioner, thus inching closer to becoming the first Asian-American to hold the top post in Pennsylvania state.

Makhija had thrown his hat in the ring for the primary election on Tuesday for Commissioner of Montgomery County, which has one of the largest Asian-American populations in Pennsylvania.

"It's official! Our underdog campaign succeeded and I have officially won the Democratic nomination for Montgomery County Commissioner," Makhija took to his Twitter to share the news on Wednesday.

"None of this would have happened without my incredible team + supporters, and for that I am immeasurably grateful. Together, we made history," he tweeted.

Makhija, who belongs to a Sindhi family from India, will now be competing in the November general election to determine control of the three-member Board of Commissioners in Pennsylvania's third largest county with over 865,000 people.

If elected, the 36-year-old election law professor at the University of Pennsylvania would be the first South Asian member to serve for the position left open by outgoing commissioner Valerie Arkoosh.

"Congratulations to my friend, @NeilMakhija, on becoming the Democratic nominee for Montgomery County (PA) Commissioner!," Aruna Miller, Maryland's first Indian-American Lieutenant Governor, tweeted.

In an email to his supporters, a victorious Makhija said his campaign "inspired a new and diverse coalition of voters to turn out to vote in every corner of the county".

Montgomery County Commission is the governing body of Montgomery County, consisting of five members who are elected by districts.

Each Commissioner is elected to a four-year term and represents approximately 45,000 constituents.

The Montgomery County Commission's responsibilities include control of all county public funds, adoption of an annual budget reflecting anticipated income and expenses (by law, expenditures cannot exceed revenue received).

If elected, Makhija, along with other commissioners, will be tasked with managing a budget greater than $500 million and 3,000 employees including elections, courts, district attorney's office, public health departments and public infrastructure.

The commissioners will also oversee administration of the 2024 presidential election, which is expected to put local election officials in the spotlight in battleground Pennsylvania.

Makhija worked at the White House, Senate, and earned his JD at Harvard Law School on the Horace Lentz Scholarship.

As the son of Indian immigrants, the Pennsylvania native is passionate about enfranchising underrepresented communities and engaging new citizens in state and local politics.


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