LD16 Assembly Candidate Sadaf Jaffer: ‘People Shouldn’t be Cynical about Politics’


Sadaf Jaffer made history in 2019 as the first Muslim woman to serve as the mayor of a town in the United States, and she hopes to break another glass ceiling this year by winning an assembly seat in LD16 and becoming the only Muslim in the New Jersey Legislature.

If she wins, she would actually become the first Asian American woman in the Legislature, and the first Muslim – ever.

The Democrat from Montgomery has a unique background for New Jersey politics, where brass knuckles and suspenders are more pervasive than caps and gowns, and bosses touting headline skimming more common than books.

Jaffer is a scholar.

She teaches South Asian studies and Asian American studies at Princeton University.

“I believe having a background in global studies and history and literature helps you make better decisions,” said the LD16 candidate, who doesn’t see a contradiction between academics and politics.

One complements the other, in fact.

“I want to make sure students are well informed but I am also an impatient person, and I wanted to directly make that an impact [in elected office],” she said.

She began thinking about running in 2013 as an Emerge New Jersey ally.

Jaffer’s enthusiasm and community dedication come across in an InsiderNJ interview (you can watch it below).

“People shouldn’t be cynical,” she insisted. “People can make a difference. Most elected officials are trying to do the best for their communities.”

If she is victorious this year, she said she would like to make the struggle for social and labor justice primary areas of interest in the legislature. As a former local elected official, she also wants to advocate for greater connectivity to local government and local elected officials, and to contribute to greater participation in the process by the public.

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