Edison residents receive racist school board election ads

Posted: Updated:
Authorities in Edison are investigating racist campaign mailers that attack two Asian school board candidates. Authorities in Edison are investigating racist campaign mailers that attack two Asian school board candidates.
EDISON -

Racist campaign mailers attacking two Asian school board candidates and demanding to “Make Edison Great Again” are circulating throughout a New Jersey township, but so far no one is taking credit.

Residents sent photos of the anonymous mailers to News 12 New Jersey Wednesday. The mailers evoke the campaign slogan of President Donald Trump while claiming Chinese and Indian residents are “taking over” the town.

School board candidates Jerry Shi and Falguni Patel are featured on the campaign mailers with “deport” stamps on their pictures.

The candidates released a joint statement saying in part, "...we will not be distracted by these unfortunate attacks. They are un-American and not the Edison we know."

The ads are in violation of state election law because they do not identify who paid for them.

Patel, a Democratic committeewoman and immigration lawyer, said she’s disgusted by the pamphlets.

“I was born and raised in New Jersey,” she said. “To see the word ‘deport’ on my picture ... really it’s just outrageous.”

Both mayoral candidates have also denounced the mailers, but are also accusing each other of having something to do with the flyers.

Republican Keith Hahn vowed to find the “anonymous cowards” behind the mailer, while Democratic Mayor Tom Lankey said it is a “sad reality” that certain people feel empowered to express “these vile ideas.”

Some residents have suggested that Shi and Patel are behind the flyers themselves in an effort to drive up the Asian vote. Edison Township has a large Asian-American community, many of them Chinese and Indian immigrants. More than 45 percent of Edison Township was born abroad, and about a quarter of the township was born in India.

Democratic Councilwoman Sapana Shah said that community relationships have improved in recent years, but she’s often overheard racially motivated complaints around the township.

The Associated Press news wire service contributed to this report.

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