Edison Rivals Have Contrasting Reactions to Language at Mayoral Forum

Bhagia, right, and Joshi, candidates for Edison mayor.

At a TV Asia forum this week, the two candidates for Edison mayor considered a tax question and  expressed different reactions when the host of the forum asked the question in Hindi.

The race features a clash between Council Vice President Sam Joshi, a first generation American who grew up in Edison, and local Democratic Chairman Mahesh Bhagia, a businessman immigrant from India.

Joshi has the backing of the Middlesex County democratic Committee and multiple significant establishment figures in the state, including Governor Phil Murphy. Bhagia is banking on the backing of taxpayers irritated by the interference of the county.

Jyotsna Sharma asked the two candidates if they would consider raising taxes on businesses and risk doing further damage to establishments hurt during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Bhagia gave his response in Hindi.

When it was his turn, Joshi objected.

“We’re in America,” said Joshi. “I understand this is TV Asia. I am representing Edison Township, which is in America. I think it’s important we speak majority English so people can also understand. It if you repeat that, go for it, but I can’t respond.”

Sharma gently pushed back, noting viewers who speak Indian and said “language is not a concern exactly,” but moved on with the rest of the forum.

Asians make up about 43% of the population in Edison.

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