Virbhadra Patel
Virbhadra Patel (right) was sworn in as the first Indian American council member in Woodbridge Township history.

WOODBRIDGE, N.J. (Diya TV) — New Jersey’s annual India Day parade took place on Aug. 14, but this year’s was made a little extra special — Virbhadra Patel became the first Indian American sworn in to serve the Fourth Ward on the Township Council in history.

Woodbridge is the state’s sixth-largest muncipality by population, with just over 100,00 residents, a quarter of which are of Asian descent. Patel’s Fourth Ward contains a large concentration of Asian Indians.

“It is such an honor to be sworn in on India Square together with so many of my fellow South Asian Americans,” Patel said.

He joined the council not after winning an election, but after serving a temporary appointment by the Democratic Party. It underscores the power of Mayor Jon MacCormac, who has influence over the party organization.

His swearing in came just five days after the resignation of the Fourth Ward’s prior representative took the town by surprise. By law, when an elected official resigns during the middle of their term, their party’s organization get to propose three potential temporary replacements, and the Township Council gets to pick from them.

The Township Council elected Patel within minutes of his appointment.

Patel’s swearing-in ceremony was reminscent of that of Kyle Anderson, who became the first non-white person sworn into local office in Woodbridge on Martin Luther King, Jr. Day 2011.

According to Patel’s Facebok page, he’s a former Senior Transportation Specialist at NYC DOT, a former Civil Engineer at Frederic R Harris Inc.. He hold a master’s degree in Traffic & Transportation Engineering from the NJ Institute of Technology. His rise to power brings to fruition the Indian-American community’s increasing political influence in Woodbridge.