Ravi Bhalla wins Hoboken election, becomes N.J.'s first Sikh mayor

Bhalla, who serves on the City Council, claimed the victory at Moran's Pub on Garden Street with dozens of his supp...

HOBOKEN -- City Councilman Ravi Bhalla has emerged victorious in the six-person mayoral race, becoming the first Sikh mayor of the Mile Square City -- and the state of New Jersey. 

Bhalla, an Indian-American born in New Jersey, was endorsed by current Mayor Dawn Zimmer, who in a surprising decision announced he would not seek a third term in office.

Bhalla, who serves on the City Council, claimed the victory at Moran's Pub on Garden Street with dozens of his supporters, as well as his friends and family. 

He bested a six-person field of challengers that included council members Michael DeFusco and Jennifer Giattino, as well as Hudson County Freeholder Anthony Romano. 

The wide-open campaign that kicked off in June with Zimmer's announcement quickly turned into heated race, with Anthony Romano's campaign manager, Pablo Fonseca, calling the race "ugly" and "divisive."

The race turned ugly in recent days when doctored campaign fliers began circulating anonymously attacking Bhalla. The fliers were placed on car windshields with the message "Don't let TERRORISM take over our town!" above a picture of the Sikh mayoral candidate wearing a turban.

The fliers appeared to have been a modified version of a mailer from DeFusco's campaign, alleging Bhalla had a conflict of interest. The councilman condemned the fliers in a statement, saying his campaign had nothing to do with the fliers. 

Hoboken police released video footage last week showing two unidentified "persons of interest" holding stacks of papers, presumably the fliers.

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