NEW YORK (TIP): In a closely contested draw for Board of Directors, three of the four contesting candidates were announced as winners at the Jackson Heights Merchants Association’s 2013 elections. Amarjit Singh, Amit Kumar and Kamal Kumar were the three winners among the four candidates who had contested for elections. Amarjit Singh won with 101 votes polled in his favor. Kamal Kumar bagged 104 votes and Amit Kumar, more popularly known as Manu, got the highest number of votes. He secured 121 votes to finish on top amongst the winners. Karan Verma of Kunal Jewelers finished fourth with 46 votes polled in his favor.
Amarjit Singh, who runs a unit of Money Gram at Jackson Heights, has been with Jackson Heights Merchants’ Association for the last ten years. His decision to stand for the elections was solely to contribute in helping JHMA to bring in more shoppers and visitors to the 74th street. His personal goal is to bring in more businesses in the area and expand the Association’s reach beyond 74th street. He adds, “The Association’s primary purpose is to not just bring more people in the market but to also make sure that they are in a safe and comfortable neighborhood.
Our plan as a team is to facilitate this.” Kamal Kumar, a jeweler at Sona Mandi has been an invaluable member with the JHMA for the past 18 years. Although JHMA has been in place since the 1990s,Kamal Kumar stresses on its importance in the street. “Once the area developed it was only inevitable that an Association be formed.We needed this organization to settle any disputes and also draw ideas to expand,” added Kumar. Amit Kumar or Manu, owner of Black Wireless, won the lead in the number of total votes polled in favor. He attributes his decision to contest in the elections to his two other contenders. He has been part of JHMA since the last six years and has been an eminent member who contributed to its success.
He also dismisses the ideas that there are threats and problems internally or externally to the Association. “I don’t believe we face any problems.We do everything by the book and we blend well as a team. So we don’t think the Association faces any threats,” says Manu. The Jackson Heights Merchant Association is perhaps the most popular merchants’ Association in this busy business district. Since its inception the organization has received continual support from the state of New York. Kamal Kumar explains, “It is only due to the tremendous and continual support we received from the authorities here that we were able to flourish.
There are means to resolve any issues here.” The Association is also popularly known in New York City for its extravagant celebration of Indian festivals. Amarjit Singh explains, “We always celebrate all our big festivals irrespective of religion. We want to make a mark as an Indian community who live so far away from home.” The three winners along with other board members and President plan on merging with other Associations and welcoming more businessmen in to the street. Kamal Kumar adds, “Any merchant irrespective of caste, race, ethnicity is welcome to set up his business here in the street. This is not an Indian Association only. It’s a merchants’ Association. Everyone is welcome here. And for this reason we are also looking into various ties with other similar Associations.”