By Tom Momberg
Community advocate Satnam Singh Parhar, of Bellerose, is entering the race for former City Councilman Mark Weprin’s (D-Oakland Gardens) seat, making him the third South Asian to toss his hat in the ring for the diverse northeast Queens council district that represents neighborhoods like Bellerose, Little Neck, Douglaston, Queens Village and Glen Oaks.
“I have spent my time here in New York fighting for the Indian community and Queens neighborhoods, but now I am looking forward to fighting for the whole community,” Parhar said in an interview.
Parhar said Tuesday he filed petitions with the state and city Boards of Elections this week and would make an official announcement by the end of the week. Parhar, a Sikh from India, joins the Council race against fellow South Asians attorney and activist Ali Najmi and Celia Dosamantes, currently the deputy chief of staff for Assemblyman Philip Ramos (D-Suffolk Co.). A victory by one of the three would mark the first election of a South Asian in the city.
Parhar is also facing former Flushing Assemblyman and Borough Director of Community Boards and Parks Barry Grodenchick; Rebecca Lynch, the mayor’s deputy commissioner of community affairs; former state Assembly and City Council candidate Bob Friedrich, a civic leader; and the Republican and Conservative Party candidate Joe Concannon, a retired NYPD commander.
Parhar, earned a Bachelor of Commerce degree in India, and has lived in New York for 40 years. As he worked in the fashion industry and later in construction and development, he also immersed himself in philanthropy and community activism.
Having spent several years serving the India Association of Long Island, he was appointed president of the organization in 2014, and helped it to secure a permanent office in Hicksville, L.I.
The roughly 2,000-member non-profit represents the interests of people of Indian heritage in Queens, Kings, Nassau and Suffolk counties.
Over the years Parhar has taken up several community issues in Queens and he worked on Swaranjit Singh’s 2009 City Council campaign against Mark Weprin for the seat that he is running for now.
The candidate also worked on campaigns and fund-raisers for state Sen. Tony Avella (D-Bayside) and Assemblyman David Weprin (D-Fresh Meadows). He is the founder of the Sant Baba Nidham Singh Cultural Society and is the chairman of the Rajput Cultural Society.
Parhar said he is building his campaign platform on support for smaller class sizes and increased pay for teachers in city public schools, as well as on economic growth through incentivizing small businesses.
“Everything is going good for these communities in Queens, but there are still so many issues that I feel obligated to take up,” many of which address transit and infrastructure concerns, Parhar said. “We need more charter senior centers, and bus systems. There are not enough bus shelters and many of them are leaking.”
Parhar, as an activist who previously worked with communities to clean neighborhoods and promote awareness of local issues, said many communities in the 23rd Council District, which he is running to represent, are neglected by the city.
“We have a duty to our communities to keep our roads clean, and it’s something we need to make residents more aware of,” he said.
Reach reporter Tom Momberg by e-mail at tmomb