HOBOKEN, N.J. — Ravi Bhalla, who was elected Hoboken's first Sikh mayor, thanked supporters after his historic victory, saying he's grateful for the opportunity to lead.
"I am just very deeply humbled by the outpouring of support from the people of Hoboken. This is a wonderful city, I love this city," he said in a news conference Wednesday morning.
Bhalla beat opponent Michael DeFusco with 34 percent of the vote.
He was joined by New Jersey's governor-elect Phil Murphy, who defeated Gov. Chris Christie's second-in-command Kim Guadagno with 55 percent of the vote.
Murphy recognized Bhalla’s win as making history and said he's excited to work with him.
Murphy acknowledged New Jersey’s strength, coming together to elect Bhalla as mayor despite the racial flyers passed around, labeling Bhalla as a terrorist.
Bhalla had been the subject of anonymously distributed flyers that labeled him a terrorist. The flyers featured a picture of Bhalla with the message "Don't let TERRORISM take over our Town!" The Indian-American politician called the flyers troubling in a Twitter post but said "we won't let hate win."
Two other Asian-American political candidates were targeted in New Jersey during this campaign cycle. Jerry Shi and Falguni Patel won seats on the school board in Edison after they were targeted by mailers that read "Make Edison Great Again" and said "the Chinese and Indians are taking over our town." It called for the candidates to be deported.
Bhalla's win proved “the state is stronger when we’re together, which is a really big win,” Murphy said.
Murphy said he and Christie plan to meet within the next couple of days and focus on the transition process.
Overall, “it was a good night for Democrats,” Murphy said.
Both elected officials are expected to take office in January.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.