Edison residents receive anti-immigrant school board ads

EMBED </>More Videos

Toni Yates has the details on the anti-immigrant school board ads.

Racist campaign mailers attacking two Asian school board candidates and demanding to "Make Edison Great Again" are circulating throughout a New Jersey township, but so far no one is taking credit.

Edison Township residents received the anonymous mailers Wednesday, which evoke the campaign slogan of President Donald Trump while claiming Chinese and Indian residents are "taking over" the town.

School board candidates Jerry Shi and Falguni Patel are featured on the campaign mailers with "deport" stamps on their pictures.

The ads are in violation of state election law, because they do not identify who paid for them.

Patel, a Democratic committeewoman and immigration lawyer, said she's disgusted by the pamphlets.

"I was born and raised in New Jersey," she said. "To see the word 'deport' on my picture...really it's just outrageous."

Both mayoral candidates have also denounced the mailers. Republican Keith Hahn vowed to find the "anonymous cowards" behind the mailer, while Democratic Mayor Tom Lankey said it is a "sad reality" that certain people feel empowered to express "these vile ideas."

Here is the full statement from Mayor Lankey:

"A despicable campaign flyer was distributed around town today. Edison has proudly embraced our ethnic, cultural and religious diversity. My Administration, in keeping with our progressive Democratic principles, has supported and encouraged our newest residents to get involved in public affairs, to run for elected office, to work in public service, and to hold appointed posts on local boards and commissions. It has become a sad reality that in our polarized political atmosphere, some people suddenly feel empowered to publicly express these vile nativist ideas. Make no mistake, we will do everything we can to expose the shameful people behind this. As mayor, my top priority is to protect the safety of all residents. Rest assured, I will investigate the source of this racist flyer and will react swiftly to any potential threats that result from it being disseminated in my community."

Shi and Patel issued the following joint statement Thursday:

"We decided to run for the Edison Board of Education so we can improve educational opportunities for all the students of Edison, this is the only reason we got involved. Edison is a wonderful community full of amazing people of all backgrounds, this is our strength. So, we will not be distracted by these unfortunate attacks. They are un-American and not the Edison we know. Those who are responsible for these actions should be held accountable. When our naysayers go low, we will go high and double our efforts to build a better future together. We will continue to focus on our campaign and work for the students and taxpayers of this town that we love."

Edison Township has a large Asian-American community, many of them Chinese and Indian immigrants. More than 45 percent of Edison Township was born abroad, and about a quarter of the township was born in India.

Democratic Councilwoman Sapana Shah said that community relationships have improved in recent years, but she's often overheard racially motivated complaints around the township.

(The Associated Press contributed to this report)
Related Topics:
(Copyright ©2018 WABC-TV. All Rights Reserved.)