An Edison School Board member who recently came under fire for anti-Muslim posts on social media has filed to run for the Democratic nomination for State Senate in the 18th legislative district.
Mohin Patel, the vice president of Edison’s Board of Education, will mount a primary against State Sen. Patrick Diegnan (D-South Plainfield). He filed Monday with 194 signatures, likely enough for his petitions to survive a challenge, and will run under the slogan “Middlesex Democratic Party.”
Diegnan, who was elected to the Assembly eight times before moving to the upper chamber after former State Sen. Peter Barnes III (D-Edison) vacated the seat to join Middlesex County’s Superior Court bench, filed with 398 signatures.
Barnes died in February. He was 64.
The incumbent, along with Assemblymen Robert Karabinchak (D-Edison) and Sterley Stanley (D-East Brunswick), are running on the party line with the slogan “Middlesex County Democratic Organization.”
The assemblymen filed with 426 signatures each, more than twice the 192 filed by Patel’s slate of Assembly candidates. The Edison official will run with Lisa Salem, of Edison, and Maurice Alfaro Sr., of Metuchen.
The two challengers filed with 192 signatures each.
Among several oddities is that Patel is supporting Edison Democratic Municipal Chairman Mahesh Bhagia for mayor. So is Diegnan.
Patel came under fire last week for a series of Facebook posts that included a shared picture of a bonfire adorned with photographs of five individuals and the flag of Pakistan above which the candidate wrote “Happy Holi, although a few more are missing in that pill (sic) like Kejrivalve, barkha and India Today jurnos!!”
He was apparently referring to Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal and Indian news anchor Barkha Dutt.
Patel apologized two days after the New Jersey Globe reported the posts.
“My friends and mentors in the Muslim, Jewish, Sikh, Hindu, and other communities have over the years shown me more constructive ways to engage in dialogues, and I thank them for it,” Patel said in the letter shared by the Council on American-Islamic Relations’ New Jersey branch. “Over the last few years, I have done a lot of growing and maturing, and I have a much more nuanced worldview than I did then. I have learned that the Quran, much like my own holy books, preaches forgiveness. And I humbly ask for your forgiveness.”
That controversy isn’t Patel’s only one. The School Board member is one of eight individuals implicated by a U.S. Postal Inspector investigation into a racist 2017 Edison campaign flyer.
The mailer urged voters “Stop Jerry Shi and Falguni Patel from taking over our school board.”
“The Chinese and Indians are taking over our Town! Chinese School! Indian School! Cricket Fields,” it said. “Enough is Enough.”
Another member of the Edison Eight, Councilman Ajay Patil, has fingered Bhagaia and Wilentz partner Satish Poondi, as the architects of the mailer.
Shi is president of Edison’s School Board and was also implicated by in the Postal Inspector’s investigation.