Editor’s Note: Tofazzal Liton is a Bangladeshi New Yorker columnist for Queens County Politics focusing on his community.
There are four Bangladeshi candidates running in the February 2 special election for New York City Council District 24. If one wins, the candidate will be the first Bangladeshi elected to the New York City Council and join a cohort of Bangladeshis elected around the nation.
“Bangladeshi people are now taking part in mainstream American politics. It’s a proud news for us. Sheikh Rahman has been re-elected from the Georgia State Senate. Abul B. Khan has won in New Hampshire. Dona Imam has done well in the US congressional election from Texas. In the past, Bangladeshis have won elections at various regional levels. Now, the newcomers are coming forward. As a result, I believe that Bangladeshi Americans will do better in the future,” said Bangladeshi American writer Shamim Al Amin.
The two female candidates are the young organizer and community activist Moumita Ahmed, and attorney and President of the Queens County Women’s Bar Association Soma Syed. The male candidates are healthcare executive Dilip Nath and community organizer Mujib Rahman.
The District 24 special election is the first election to use ranked choice voting. Voters will rank their top five candidates in order of preference. If no candidate receives 50 percent of the vote, the candidate in last-place is eliminated. Voters who picked the eliminated candidate will have their second choice tallied. That process will continue until one candidate receives a majority of the vote.
“Four candidates of Bangladeshi descent have run for a city council seat in the District 24. Everyone has the right to be a candidate. However, if one would be chosen as a candidate collectively from Bangladeshi community then the chances of winning would be high. However, there is still a possibility for Bangladeshi candidates from that area to win. I am optimistic,” said Morshed Alam, a Democrat with 30 years of experience.
City Council District 24 covers parts of Eastern Queens including the neighborhoods of Kew Gardens Hills and Fresh Meadows. There’s a large Orthodox Jewish population in Kew Gardens Hills, including one of the nation’s largest Bukharian Jewish communities. There are various South Asian communities in Jamaica Hills, including many residents who identify as Hindu and Muslim.