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Edison school board member Jerry Shi. (Photo: Facebook).

Ethics complaint against Edison school board member moves forward

By David Wildstein, October 19 2021 7:26 pm

The School Ethics Commission today moved forward with a complaint against Edison School Board member Jerry Shi for supporting a mayoral candidate, something which ethics laws prevent school board members from doing in their official capacity.

Tony DePasquale, who lost a race for the Edison School Board last year, filed a complaint in June alleging that a campaign poster for failed Edison mayoral candidate Mahesh Bhagia claimed Shi’s endorsement.

In the complaint, DePasquale charged that Shi had used his official office to support Bhagia, and had “also campaigned for him which would also fall under using his [Board] position for his friends.”

Shi filed a motion to dismiss DePasquale’s complaint in August, saying that the complaint was frivolous and that he had endorsed Bhagia in his capacity as a private citizen. But the School Ethics Commission’s action today denies Shi’s claim of frivolity, and sends the complaint forward to the Office of Administrative Law.

Shi, along with Bhagia’s brother, Raj Bhagia, is a member of the so-called Edison Eight, a group of Edison politicians who allegedly circulated a racist flyer in 2017 urging voters to “deport” two Asian American politicians, one of them being Shi himself.

Bhagia had already lost the Democratic primary election to Edison Councilman Sam Joshi by the time DePasquale filed his complaint in June. Joshi faces Republican Keith Hahn in November; Bhagia, despite being the Democratic municipal chairman in Edison, has not endorsed in the race.

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