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New Jersey town swears in state’s first Sikh mayor

January 2, 2018
In this Monday, Jan. 1, 2018 photo, Hoboken's Mayor-elect Ravinder S. Bhalla, left, is sworn in by Sen. Cory Booker, unseen, as Bhalla's family looks on during an inauguration ceremony at Hoboken High School, in Hoboken, N.J. (Michael Dempsey/The Jersey Journal via AP)
In this Monday, Jan. 1, 2018 photo, Hoboken's Mayor-elect Ravinder S. Bhalla, left, is sworn in by Sen. Cory Booker, unseen, as Bhalla's family looks on during an inauguration ceremony at Hoboken High School, in Hoboken, N.J. (Michael Dempsey/The Jersey Journal via AP)

HOBOKEN, N.J. (AP) — New Jersey’s first Sikh mayor has taken office.

Ravi Bhalla was sworn in Monday as Hoboken’s new leader. The former City Council member succeeds Dawn Zimmer, who decided not to seek a third term in office.

Zimmer had endorsed Bhalla in the November election, when he beat five other candidates for the job.

That campaign became heated in the closing days when doctored racist campaign fliers began circulating anonymously. The fliers had the words “Don’t let TERRORISM take over our town!” posted above a picture of Bhalla, wearing a turban.

The new mayor, an Indian-American born in New Jersey, has said his goals include pushing for infrastructure improvements and expanding open space in the city of 55,000 on the Hudson River.

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