By Ashley Kooblall
The race for the hot seat is well underway as Japneet Singh runs for New York City Council District 28, which includes the communities of South Ozone Park, Jamaica, Richmond Hill, and Rochdale Village.
A longtime resident of Southeast Queens and member of the Sikh Coalition – a nonprofit organization protecting civil liberties among Sikhs across the country — Singh’s intense commitment to culture and community has earned him a spot on the ballot as a growing face of the future who believes that it’s time to be the representation he had hoped to see by now from someone of his ethnic origin.
“When you have your family living in this district and you hope to one day raise your own kids in this district, you become personally invested in what decisions are made for this community. For far too long we have seen this district be underrepresented, underfunded and poorly run. It’s time we change that,” the 27-year-old Punjabi-American said.
Singh, the youngest candidate running for District 28, believes that in order to efficiently be the voice of the community, the right candidate needs to understand the struggles of the community.
“My top priority is to bridge the gap between all the communities within this district. We are one of the most diverse districts in New York City, yet our communities are divided,” Singh said.
Striving for unity, Singh’s campaign is not only designed to heighten civic engagement but includes educational and social services for the youth and elderly.
In the vein of seeing greater representation in all levels of government, Singh joined local politics as a member of Community Board 10 – covering Ozone Park, South Ozone Park, South Richmond Hill, Howard Beach, Rockwood Park and Lindenwood. In 2019, he founded the New York Sikh Council – an outlet to increase Sikh awareness within distinct communities in New York.
However, Singh’s trailblazing nature stems from being a product of the NYC public school system, where he experienced first-hand the impact effective leadership had on community as the Queens College student body president.
Shivanni Shew, Singh’s former college peer turned campaign manager, believes that the Indo-Caribbean community too is hopeful with Singh’s entry to the race as he has the potential to do significant work. As a Guyanese American, Shew notes Singh’s “open mind and open heart sees no difference in himself from another. He and our entire team believe that we are all ONE,” Shew said.
With 51 council districts throughout the five boroughs and approximately ten Indian-Americans running for council member seats in the NYC Council election this year, if Singh wins the District 28 seat, he will not only replace Council Member Adrienne E. Adams (D) but be the first Sikh representation in the political space in New York State.
“Admirably, he has done more with the opportunities he’s been given at his age and it’s been a true testament to what it means to serve and serve well,” Lakshmee Singh said, host of Let’s Talk with Lakshmee TV and Radio Show. “Japneet is someone who understands our values and culture, so the best is yet to come for both, East and West Indians.”
The primary for the regular election is scheduled for June 22, 2021, trailed by the general elections on November 2nd.