EDISON – It was only fitting that Mayor Samip “Sam” Joshi took an oath at his alma mater, John P. Stevens High School.
It was in the halls and classrooms of school that he was inspired to begin his political career. He was only 14 when he volunteered as a member of the Edison Youth Service Corps.
“It was clear to anyone who knew him that he was destined for a career in government from the way he behaved, the way he addressed others, [and] about how he handled the controversy, âsaid Gail Pawlikowski, who was the high school principal when Joshi was a student. âSam had the charisma, the intelligence and the call to serve. His leadership qualities have served him well in classes and all of his extracurricular activities.
Fast forwarding nearly two decades later, Pawlikowski, who is now the academic director of the district high schools, served as master of ceremonies at Joshi’s swearing-in ceremony in the auditorium of JP Stevens High School on January 1.
âSchools often adopt currencies,â she told the audience. âFormer JP Director Cedric Richardson has adopted the motto ‘Come in to learn, go to serve’. The motto is still hanging in the hall. When I was a director, we adopted Mahatma Ghandi’s quote âBe the change you want to see in the worldâ. The elected mayor Sam Joshi took to heart these mottos, these challenges. “
Pawlikowski said Joshi “had wonderful political and government role models as he grew up,” many of whom were in the public eye, including his two predecessor mayors, Thomas Lankey and Antonia Ricigliano.
âNow Sam will work as hard to serve his community and serve as a role model for our current students,â she said.
Joshi was sworn in in front of his family and friends, Jersey City Mayor Steven Fulop, also a JP Stevens graduate.
âMy family history in Edison is that of so many of my friends and neighbors who have grown up,â he said. âMy parents came from India 34 years ago without much money with the vision of joining a community where they believed they could thrive. They settled here in Edison and opened a small convenience store earning enough money to buy a house and raise a family in the hope that their children would have opportunities they never had.
Now, a few decades later, Joshi continued, “We are here in this room on this day to write history.”
Joshi becomes the first American Indian and the youngest in the role of mayor at the age of 32. He will serve full time in the role.
The post of mayor was part-time for years until former mayor Jun Choi took office in 2006. In 2008, the council voted for a full-time post. When Mayor Thomas Lankey took office in 2014, the post of mayor was changed to return to part-time.
In November 2020, the city council discussed and approved the modification of the position of mayor from a part-time position to a full-time position. The position includes an annual salary of $ 135,000.
Joshi thanked his parents for their sacrifices, his older sister for her continued “fierce” support, and his fiancee for making him a better person.
âGrowing up in Edison, I gained a real appreciation for the values ââour community shares, values ââsuch as diversity and acceptance, which was a must in a school system that always felt like it crossed Nations. United with students, with origins from all over the world, âhe said.
In school, he also learned about Edison’s roots.
âIn 1954, residents voted to rename our municipality Edison Township after Thomas Alva Edison,â he said. âIn his day, we were recognized as a hotbed of innovation, the catalyst for a new lifestyle and the inspiration to challenge the impossible. For years, simple thoughts have become a reality. The world needed a technological breakthrough and it happened right here in our hometown. “
Much like the inventor’s breakthrough 145 years ago, Joshi said the township needs another breakthrough to turn visions into action.
“The first is unity,” he said. âToday, Edison is among the most diverse populations in the United States. Edison is home to all cultures, religions, ethnicities and all economic statuses. And because of that, we have a multitude of different perspectives and different priorities that we have to navigate. Edison’s demographics compare to that of the greater America and for that reason we are uniquely positioned to be a catalyst for unity in our society, but it’s up to us to make that change.
Joshi said there was a need to focus on how communities can come together, learn and appreciate one another moving away from the stagnation and division of the past.
âWe have to see the big picture,â he said. âWe must move forward united. “
Second, Joshi said, the government âmust work for its peopleâ.
âI learned from a young age how important and fulfilling public service and government can be,â he said. âI first walked into the halls of government when I was 14, learning from close to people on the front lines of duty. I have seen that local government can make a difference in people’s lives and can make progress faster and faster than any other level of government if we have the right leaders in place with a vision for the future. With this experience in mind, I can promise you now that we will set a new standard of excellence in local government, and I will do my best every day to lead a modern, efficient and honest government that residents can be proud of. . “
As mayor, Joshi said he would never give up or stop working for the community.
âNothing is more important to me than our collective success,â he said. âEvery decision my administration makes will prioritize the movement of our quality of life. We need an Edison that we are proud of now and in the future.
Joshi said he was optimistic about Edison’s future for the first time in decades, noting strong relationships with state, county and federal officials, including the Democratic President of Middlesex County , Kevin McCabe, Governor Phil Murphy and Congressman Frank Pallone (D-6).
In the weeks to come before his first township speech on February 22, Joshi’s administration will begin announcing deadlines for goals and making appointments to key positions with help from city council.
“You deserve nothing less than a government that is working 24/7 in the best interest of the community and I ask for your continued support and patience as we build towards this goal,” he said. he said, adding that he would continue to be “accessible to all members”. of the community “and is” open to ideas, suggestions and yes even to constructive criticism “.
Like Ghandi’s quote and the school motto Pawlikowski defined when he was in high school, Joshi said he wanted “Edison to be the catalyst for unity and good government.”
âEdison: There is so much work to do, so let’s do it together,â he said.
During the ceremony, Margot Harris, Nishith Patel and John Poyner, who won the three three-year council seats available in the November election, were sworn in to fill their council seats.
Boy Scout Troop 66 presented the colors and led the crowd in the pledge of allegiance; Bishop Nikolaos G. Brown of the Ignite Church of Fords led the invocation; and the Edison Police Honor Guard stood in the spotlight.