First Indian-American Councilman Takes Office in Woodbridge, New Jersey

WOODBRIDGE, NJ (TIP): On August 14, at the Annual India Day parade, a member of the Asian Indian community was sworn in to serve the Fourth Ward on the Woodbridge Township Council.

Woodbridge is the state’s sixth-largest municipality by population, with just over 100,000 residents, a quarter of which are of Asian descent.

The Fourth Ward includes the Iselin and Menlo Park Terrace sections of the Township, home to a large concentration of Asian Indians.

Virbhadra “Viru” Patel was sworn into to replace James Major as the Fourth Ward’s Councilman just five days after his Major’s resignation took the Township by surprise.

“It is such an honor to be sworn in on India Square together with so many of my fellow South Asian Americans,” was quoted as saying in MyCentralJersey.com.

Patel joins the Council, not after winning an election, but rather following a temporary appointment by the Democratic Party.

By law, when an elected official resigns in the middle of their term, their party’s organization get to propose three potential temporary replacements, and the Township Council gets to pick from them.

By the time Major announced his resignation on August 9, the Woodbridge Democratic Organization had already proposed Janice Kassner, Daniel Osborne, and Patel.

Within minutes, the Township Council unanimously selected Patel, on a motion made by Councilman Pete Dalina.

According to Patel’s Facebok page, he’s a former Senior Transportation Specialist at NYC DOT, a former Civil Engineer at Frederic R Harris Inc. He holds a master’s degree in Traffic & Transportation Engineering from the NJ Institute of Technology.

Patel’s rise to power coincides with the Indian-American community’s increasing political influence in Woodbridge. As we reported, two-thirds of the candidates seeking seats on the Township’s school board in the November election are South Asian.