NYC Council Primary Election ’21 & Bangladeshi Candidates

Mohammad Zainal Abedin
In New York City (NYC)the party-based primary election is going to be held on June 22, 2021. Voters of NYC belonging to different parties will choose their party candidates for all the 51 Council Districts to finally race to become City Council Members in the final election scheduled for November this year. The primary election is very crucial and important, as it determines the party’s representatives. This election is also crucial and interesting as candidates contest against their fellow party men of the same area, ethnicity, race, culture, colour or creed.
Bangladeshis though are comparatively new in America, yet they emerged as a sizable population in NYC. Thus, a noticeable number of Bangladeshi candidates are contesting in the primary election of 2021, so that at least some of them can run in the final election of coming November. The names of the Bangladeshi candidates that I could collect from several Council Districts are as follows:
No. 18 Mirza A. Rashid, Mohammed N. Mazumdar; No. 24 Moumita Ahmed, Mujib Rahman and Dilip Nath; No. 26 Badrun Khan & Sultan Maruf; No. 32: Helal Sheikh; No. 37 : Misba Abdin No. 39: Shahana Hanif and Mamnunul M. Haq.
Besides, Soma Syed, the lone Bangladeshi candidate, contests for Queens Civil Court Judge.
I think it will not be inappropriate to present the brief credentials of some Bangladeshi candidates.
The lone Bangladesh-origin attorney Soma Syed is running for Queens Civil Judge. Soma Syed, the President of the Queens County Women’s Bar Association is actively involved with many other social and legal organizations and came to America in 1989 at the age of 12 years. She was raised in Jamaica, Queens, and still lives in the same area along with her husband and family members. She went to Jamaica High School, City College of the City University of New York, and the Albany Law School of the Union University.
She is an attorney with 17 years of legal experience and a law practice in Forest Hills. She candidly works to establish effective, independent, and fair justice and representation in the judiciary for all. This year she is running for NYC Civil Court Judge from Queens County. Over 12,000 registered voters supported her candidature.
She is the principal of the Forest Hills based law firm: Soma Syed & Associates. She dedicates her legal career to the needs of immigrants, small business owners, and working people. She represents multi-faceted clients in all aspects of real estate law & foreclosure defence, business & corporate law, matrimonial & family law, immigration law, non-profits law, and general litigation. Besides, she is involved with many social and law organizations.
If elected she will work for justice for all, access to fair education, income equality, affordable house, and proper representation. She will try to avail all types of funds of the city for the small business, ensure food security and more facilities for women in the fields of job and education.
Mamunul M. Haq passed through a struggling life since he immigrated to America in 1991. To survive he took driving as a profession that experienced him the pain of misery, exploitation, deprivation prevailed in the society, which inspired him to work for the working people to keep them free from those vices. It was the inner reason what led M. Haq to contest in the City Council 39 lection.
1,700 voters signed in favour of his candidacy as NYC Councilman of Council District 39. He raised $32,000 as a donation within the first six and seven weeks. 90% of his donors are Bangladeshis. He receives even small donations. He hopes for more donations in the coming weeks. He claimed he enjoys strong support from the Jew, Latino and Bangladeshi communities. Taxi drivers, contractors, construction workers, delivery men. Socio-religious non-profit organizations extended their support for Haq. He said he did not seek any endorsement from any personality or organization, as he does not believe in endorsement, but in cooperation.
He hopes to be elected on June 22 City Council primary, as 1,700 voters signed in favour of his candidacy. He raised $32,000 as a donation in 6-7 weeks. 90% of his donors are Bangladeshis. He receives even exceedingly small amount of donations. He hopes to get more donations in the coming weeks. He claimed he enjoys strong support of the Jew, Latino and Bangladeshi communities. Taxi drivers, contractors, construction workers, delivery men. Socio-religious non-profit organizations extended their support to Haq. He said he did not seek an endorsement from any personality or organization, as he does not believe in an endorsement.
If elected he will devote his time and energy to remove the common problems of working people and uplift their position in society.
Shahana Hanif, a daughter of a Bangladeshi ship jumper and a student of Brooklyn College runs to represent NYC Council District 39. She succeeded in attracting huge support and reputation among the communities of her District, as she was endorsed by so many personalities prominently by Working Families Party, The Jewish Vote, LAMBDA INDEPENDENT DEMOCRATS OF BROOKLYN, Lambda Independent Democrats, Treeage, Central Brooklyn Independent Democrats, Muslim Democratic Club of New York, Women for Color for Progress, Churches United For Fair Housing Action, State Sen. Jessica Ramos (D, WF – 13), New American Children Action Fund, Downtown Women for Action, Voters for Animal Rights, Assembly Woman Catalina Cruz (NY 39), etc.
Her priorities are ‘Green New Deal for Brooklyn’, Support Gender Equity, Divest from Policing, Participatory City Government, etc.
If elected Shana will be the first Muslim woman and South Asian Councilperson in NYC and elsewhere in the USA.
A Bonafide Democrat Mohammed N. Majumdar, who is running for NYC Council (District 18) Membership, attained his master’s degree from Toro Law School and emerged as a regular columnist and TV commentator. He is a vocal pro-immigration and anti-discrimination activist. He actively works to end the problems of housing, homelessness, joblessness and promote equal education and job opportunity for all.
All these helped him fetch a huge reputation and recognition for him from the communities of his District and beyond. Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz awarded him with the highest honour recognizing his pro-people activities and contributions. He also received numerous titles, awards, and honours from different organizations, including New York City, New York State, Federal agencies.
He was related to several law farms for 22 years, retired as managing partner, but still performs managerial responsibility of some smaller law farms. Since 2010, he has been an active member of the Local Community Board, Chairman of the Land Zoning, and Interim Chairman of the Board 9 for two terms. Currently, he is the Director of Parkchester, the largest Condo Board of the U. S.
Being a social activist, he plays a pioneering role to promote interfaith amity, to eradicate hate crime, and integrate communities irrespective of colour, ethnicity, and country of origin.
All these pro-people activities made popular and acceptable to the people, he claimed. His claims exposed as 1,700 voters signed favouring his candidacy and he, so far, got a huge donation totalled ($2, 10, 000) in the election fund.
A good number of prominent figures endorsed N. Mazumdar recognizing his brilliant jobs that he rendered for the communities of his Country District 18 and elsewhere in NYC. Some of them are Councilman Ruben Dias, Bronx President Fernando Cobrera, Assemblyman Jose Rivera, Chairperson Bronx CB7 Emanual Martinez, etc. Besides, many socio-cultural organizations for the same reasons endorsed him. Some of those are: Hispanic Bodega Association, Bangladeshi American Cultural Association, Bangladesh Women Association, Bronx Bangladesh Society, North Bangladesh Association, Comilla Society, Bangladeshi American Community Council, Moulvibazar Society, Redoy Bangladesh, etc.
When asked why people should vote for you, he replied saying I am known to all. I have been serving them for years. I have got long experiences in how to discharge my duties efficiently, run local government offices and businesses, and above all have accurate knowledge of local problems and their solutions.
Replying to a question how he will serve his people if elected, N. Mazumdar said I want to reduce the socioeconomic gaps that prevail among people, end discrimination, increase job opportunity and housing facility; ensure quality education and eradicate violence of all kinds.
Finally, he said, “I require votes and cooperation of the dwellers of Council District 18 to implement my dreams.”
To get the real position of the Bangladeshi candidates in the forthcoming city primary elections I talked with some known Bangladesh-origin personalities who are associated with the grassroots level people. Let me reproduce their brief opinions.
Hasan Ali a leading Bangladesh-origin social activist who is an elected member (2020-22) of the Democratic party. Earlier he was also a Community Board Member (3-07).
According to him Bangladeshi candidates though have qualities and qualifications many of them do not have the appropriate support of the local Democratic Party. They must have the recognition and acceptability of the local voters irrespective of their colour, creed, ethnicity, and country of origin. Our candidates should convince the voters that they have the capability to ensure the security of their life, job, and business.
Veteran journalist Moinuddin Naser opined Bangladeshi candidates possess poor knowledge regarding the American process of election. American voters can vote beyond their party lines. Voters of this country are aware of everything around them. They can present or speak with references, what the Bangladeshis, in most cases, cannot do.
He said, politics of the Bangladeshi candidates are centralized within their own community. They have little contact with the voters of other communities. Even our new generation are not involved with our candidates. So, candidates need to repair these loopholes and follow the technique of America’s mainstream politics.
Kazi Nayan, a vocal community activist said, I am disappointed at the performance of the Bangladeshi candidates. I made this comment as none of our community candidates ever won in any level of elections, County to Assembly, that they contested. Even in the special election held on February 2, 2021, though many Bangladeshis contested, none of them got the minimum required votes to be qualified. Covid 19 was not the sole reason, but some other issues contributed to such utter failure. Candidates did not properly reach the voters. Voters even did not physically see any candidate. Voters did not get interested in voting. Above all, disunity among the Bangladeshi candidates was disastrous, as more than one candidate contested in the same Council District.
Still, I hope they will work hard for the upcoming NYC Council election of June 22, 2021, to bring the results that we desire and deserve.
Being an optimist I foresee from our next generation, a credible team will emerge soon having all requisite outlooks, qualities and qualifications matching their mainstream counterparts, who will inaugurate a golden era for the Bangladeshi community in America. We are to scum defeat till those golden days arrive.
Mohammad Zainal Abedin is a Bangladesh-origin American journalist & researcher.