Former Montgomery mayor one of first Muslims sworn in to New Jersey Legislature

Former Montgomery Township Mayor Sadaf Jaffer received the oath of office on Jan. 11 to become a member of the New Jersey General Assembly.COURTESY PHOTO
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Former Montgomery Township Mayor Sadaf Jaffer received the oath of office on Jan. 11 to become a member of the New Jersey General Assembly.COURTESY PHOTO

Former Montgomery Township Mayor Sadaf Jaffer received the oath of office from Speaker Pro Tempore Benjie Wimberly to become a member of the New Jersey General Assembly.

She and fellow first-time legislator Shama Haider will be the first Muslim Americans elected to the New Jersey Legislature.

Additionally, Jaffer, Haider and Ellen Park are the first Asian American women to serve in the New Jersey Legislature.

Jaffer joins Assemblyman Roy Freiman in representing the 16th Legislative District in Somerset, Mercer, Middlesex and Hunterdon counties.

Wimberly stood in for Assembly Speaker Craig J. Coughlin, who participated remotely while quarantining due to COVID-19, during the swearing in on Jan. 11, according to information provided by the New Jersey Assembly Democrats.

“Sadaf possesses the determination and integrity needed to be a driving force for positive change in New Jersey,” Coughlin (D-Middlesex) said during the meeting. “I am confident that she will be a valuable addition to the Assembly Democratic Caucus, and I look forward to working with her in this next term as we strive to make our state a better and more affordable place for all New Jerseyans.”

Before joining the General Assembly, Jaffer served two terms as the mayor of Montgomery where she made history as the first South Asian American woman to serve as mayor in New Jersey and the first Muslim American woman to serve as mayor of a municipality in the country, according to the statement.

As mayor, Jaffer created bipartisan support and a constituent-driven approach to stop the spread of COVID-19 during the height of the pandemic, maintaining some of the lowest COVID-19 infection and fatality rates in the state, according to the statement.

Currently, Jaffer is employed as a Postdoctoral Research Associate in South Asian Studies at Princeton University.

She also serves on the Inclusion and Equity Committee of Montgomery Township and sits on the Board of Trustees for the New Jersey Council for the Humanities.

“I am truly honored that the people of New Jersey’s 16th Legislative District have entrusted me with the responsibility of representing them in the General Assembly,” Jaffer said in the statement. “I look forward to being a strong voice in Trenton on behalf of my constituents as I work with my fellow legislators to build a stronger, healthier and more prosperous future for New Jersey.”

Jaffer earned a bachelor’s degree in Foreign Service from Georgetown University and a PhD in Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations from Harvard University with a secondary field in Studies of Women, Gender and Sexuality.

She lives in Montgomery with her husband and daughter.