EDISON – Councilman Sam Joshi walked into the futuristic-looking, legendary Skylark Diner here with Captain Kirk on the bridge of the Enterprise aspirations, his highway and politics-riven town – fifth biggest in the state by population – essentially the equivalent of an entire universe of challenges, problems, quirky schisms and downright drawn battle lines.
Born and raised here, the councilman – first elected in 2017 – didn’t show any particular stress or worry about the fearsome atmospherics of the June 8th Democratic Primary.
The opposite, in fact.
Joshi seemed genuinely calm and well-prepared and ready for action.
Of course, he received the backing earlier this week of the Middlesex County Democratic Committee for the local line, which puts him in an inarguably enviable position as he squares up against local Democratic Party Chairman Mahesh Bhagia. But Joshi quickly pointed out as he settled into one of the diner booths that he has worked in Edison politics since he was 14 years old, preparation that makes him used to the divided terrain and always quick to look for alliances in Edison’s deep and often painful political thicket.
It’s been divided for a while, especially these past few years, as Keith Hahn – now running for mayor as a Republican – wrenched the local Democratic Party organization away from the Doc Paterniti-schooled Anthony Russomano, then Shariq Ahmad beat Hahn, then Bhagia beat Ahmad, then Middlesex County Democratic Committee Chairman Kevin McCabe – in the ultimate ping pong power play, seized the party controls from Bhagia in time for this year’s mayoral election.
Even out of the depths of an intense and maybe horrific collision, Joshi said he thinks he can make it whole.
If there’s an upside to the tortured turf of the primary here it’s that the principals never really liked each other anyway, so it’s not as though anyone’s going to worry about anyone else’s feelings getting hurt.
They’re just going to go hellbent for leather, or so it so appears early – and often.
Still, Joshi said he’s prepared to welcome Bhagia’s endorsement on the other other side of the primary.
But would he back Bhagia if Bhagia wins?
“I’m going to win,” said the councilman, eyes crinkled over his COVID-19 mask, which covered a grin.
Ok, so that’s how it’s going to go.
Still – he emphasizes that he will not take the contest for granted, and plans to go out and work for evry vote.
Young and youthful, well-spoken and determined, the Rutgers University-educated councilman, a mortgage broker by trade – outlined his vision for Edison in Friday morning’s diner booth sit-down with InsiderNJ. In the process, he touched on President Joe Biden’s federal infrastructure plan and its potential local impact, his professional designs should he get elected, his political history and his deep roots in Edison, the meaning of the county organization’s support, and his willingness to extend a hand in friendship to those willing to work with him even amid the visceral hell of the war in which he finds himself with arch-foe Bhagia.
Please access the rest of the three-section interview below: