Demands to dismiss Edison mayor’s assistant accused of racist remarks

Rebecca Nowalski
Edison Mayor Thomas Lankey during the “Confronting Bigotry: Stand Up for the Other”, a nonpolitical, interfaith program held at the Temple Emanu-EL in Edison on July 6.




Calling themselves “Asian American community leaders” with connections to Edison, more than 150 individuals signed a statement demanding that the mayor and town council fire Nilesh Dasondi, who is the special assistant to Edison Mayor Tom Lankey.

Dasondi, who was appointed to the special assistant to the mayor’s post five weeks ago, allegedly made comments reflecting “hate” and “racism” toward Chinese Americans, when he referred to COVID-19 as the “Chinese Virus” in several messages in 2020.

The accusation of racism by one Asian ethnic group against another Asian ethnic group in Edison is striking because the share of Asian residents in Edison is 48.7%, an estimated five times larger than the share of Asians in New Jersey’s population as a whole, according to 2019 U.S. Census Data.

In addition, racism has become a major issue in the Edison mayoral race, and was during the 2017 school board election.

According to the statement from the self-described community leaders, they “have seen a rise of hate against the Asian community in the past couple weeks and it is unacceptable and disgusting. We are one community, one town and we will not stand to see the top positions in Edison Town Hall held by those who show hate towards Chinese Americans.”

“The fact that Mayor Lankey and the Edison Council have been silent on this is unacceptable. We stand together and must send a clear message that hate has no home in Edison and our leadership must represent that,” the statement went on to say.

Multiple attempts to reach Lankey were unsuccessful by press time.

Among the 150 people who signed the statement to stand against hate and racism are: Edison Board of Education President Mohin Patel; Edison Board of Education Vice President
Shannon Peng; Edison Board of Education Member
Dr. Yunxia “Yuna” Chen; Edison Board of Education Member
Mahesh Bhagia; and Edison Democratic Chairman
Raj Bhagia.