InsiderNJ Election 2017: Women on the Rise

5 South-Asian Women on the Rise


Mishael Azam 

Lobbyist for New Jersey Medical Society, previously, a top-aide to Assembly Majority Leader Lou Greenwald, Azam, a behind-the-scenes player, has deep ties to the South Jersey political establishment.

Shanti Narra

Elected to her first full-term, the Middlesex County Freeholder (pictured, with Assemblyman Raj Mukherji) made history as the first South-Asian Woman ever elected to a county-wide office anywhere in the county. The former North Brunswick Councilwoman is growing strength in the Indian-American dominated Middlesex County.

Ayesha Krishnan Hamilton

The West Windsor Councilwoman has been short-listed for County-Wide office in Mercer County. The serial relationship-builder was a frequent face at Murphy for Governor events.

Tahsina Ahmed

The top vote-getter of 4 candidates in Haeldon has close ties to State Chairman John Currie

Sangeetha Doshi

The Cherry Hill Councilwoman-Elect campaigned hard – a 21 year resident of Camden County – she built strong relationships with the growing South-Asian population in Camden County.

Rising Star Women to Watch in 2018
Joann Downey
After winning her first term by 250 votes in 2015, naysayers said her election was a fluke. She won re-election this year by nearly 6,000 votes as the top vote-getter in LD-11. Now, Downey, an early backer of newly-elected Speaker Craig Coughlin, appears to be in strong position to get a chairmanship and having legislative success under the new Speaker. She seconded the nomination of Coughlin as Speaker.
Holly Schepisi
The Republican Assemblywoman was mad. Her social media posts were lit up with her anger and frustration towards then Assembly Speaker Vincent Prieto. Now with a big victory, after hundreds of thousands of dollars spent against her, does Schepsi make a run for higher office in 2018?
Eliana Pintor Marin
The Deputy Essex County Clerk, only 37 years old, is the new Budget Chairwoman. With the backing of powerful Essex County Democratic Chairman Leroy Jones and powerful East Ward Boss Joe Parlavecchio, the new Budget Chair will be in the forefront of public policy in 2018.
Sandra Cunningham
The veteran Senator will be tested with a key Mayoral Race in 2018 – Bayonne. The Senator has also been appointed in the Senate Leadership Team under Sweeney.
Christine Hanlon
The Republican County Clerk and Right-Hand to Chairman Shaun Golden will have to decide soon if she will run for State Assembly in 2019. If Murphy’s approval rating are low, the 11th District could be competitive in 2019. Democrats will point to Houghtaling and Downey’s 6,000 vote margin.
Janice Fuller
The newly appointed Ocean Township School Board Member is Chief of Staff to the most powerful Democrat in NJ’s house caucus – Frank Pallone. All eyes will be on their involvement in other districts during the 2018 House Races.
Shavonda Sumter
The once LG Candidate who fell short surprised North Jersey players by backing Coughlin for Speaker and held onto her leadership spot. Does the Assemblywoman end up being a Coughlin ally over her North Jersey base? 2018 will tell.
Maggie Moran
President of Kivvit – Moran went all in LD-11 with Vin Gopal’s senate candidacy, backing him from day one. The relationship was already close even before the Laborers going all in for Gopal’s successful election. Moran picks up another Senate ally with her long-time friend Joe Cryan winning a Senate Seat in Union County.
Sue Kiley
The Republican Mayor of Hazlet Township defeated her opponent 57-43 in a crucial Bayshore town. Kiley is being courted for outgoing Freeholder Serena DiMaso’s seat. DiMaso was elected to the State Assembly in the 13th District.
Christina Zuk
The Princeton Public Affairs Lobbyist is serving on Murphy’s Transition Team for Budget. Zuk – previously the Political Director for JNESO Nurses Union and Chief of Staff to the last Democratic Nominee, Barbara Buono – looks to make an impact in 2018 with a Democratic Governor finally in place.
Chrissy Buteas & Karen Kominsky
The two long-time Trenton insiders are rumored to end up in the Murphy Administration.
Katie Gibbs 
The Republican Freeholder is up for re-election in 2018 after Democrats won 2 freeholder seats in Burlington County this year. Gibbs works for the Operating Engineers – will be combating a potential anti-Trump Wave. She watched her assemblymembers in District 8 narrowly survive this year.
Christine Sadovy
The Government Affairs Director for Planned Parenthood took a big risk opposing the Pro-Choice Senator Jen Beck. Her organization had a big victory in 2017 from the Governor’s Race all the way down the ballot.
Laura Matos
The General Manager of KIVVIT – Matos has served under 3 Democratic Governors – Matos stands to grow KIVVIT’s clout with a stronger Democratic Senate and Democratic Governor.
Alixon Collazos
A long-time political operative who worked for Congressman Steve Rothman and most recently for Millennium Strategies, Collazos has deep ties with the Hispanic community and was a key player in outreach for the Murphy Campaign.

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  • Charles Latini Jr

    Great list but missing one. Sheena Collum of South Orange! Doing great things up there.

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