Ali Najmi, a South Asian American, has declared his candidacy for New York City Council. Ali, a Democrat, is running to win from District 23, in this section of Queens — heavily populated by South Asian families, many of which have immigrated from India. It’s a tight-knit community, an ethnic enclave, and should Najmi win the race this fall, he will become the first elected official of South Asian descent in the history of New York City. The district’s seat became vacant this June after Councilman Mark Weprin resigned to take a position in Governor Andrew Cuomo’s administration.
Najmi — a 30-year-old defense attorney who previously served as Weprin’s legislative director and recently nabbed an endorsement from 2014 gubernatorial candidate Zephyr Teachout — is hoping his résumé and strong ties to the community will help him win what is expected to be a crowded Democratic primary in September. And in this community, being a South Asian kid from the neighborhood does indeed go a long way.
Ali Najmi said he is running for the City Council to make sure that all communities are respected and included in the City’s public holidays, and for this Diwali should be acknowledged as an important holiday
“I urge Mayor Bill de Blasio to demonstrate to our community the respect we deserve by adding Diwali to the public school holiday calendar. Hindu, Sikh, Jain, and Buddist communities should have their holiday recognized. It is right thing to do and it is the New York thing to do. New York has a wonderful tradition of adapting to the needs of new and growing communities. Let’s continue that tradition by adding Diwali to the school calendar,” he said July 13.
New York is home to well over 250,000 adherents to these faiths, and recognition of Diwali as a public school holiday will be an important acknowledgement of their countless contributions to this great city, the campaigners said last week.
“Ali Najmi will be a Council Member that fights for all communities to get the recognition that they deserve. We are proud to stand with him today to call on the Department of Education to recognize Diwali as a school holiday,” said Pam Kwatra, Founder and Chair of South Asian 4 Better Choice.
Ali Najmi, a defense attorney, was honored by the New Kings Democrats for his work as a community organizer. Ali has led successful efforts to increase funding for youth programs in his community and he has rallied to improve local public schools and expand library service.
He has worked closely with labor unions as the political director of the Alliance of South Asian American Labor (ASAAL) . Ali is a co-founder of the Muslim Democratic Club of New York and is the past president of the Eleanor Roosevelt Democratic Club.