Nepali American Sarahana wins the primary in AD-103, beating a 23-year incumbent

A first-generation Nepali American immigrant Sarahana Shrestha has won her race in a primary election for the party line in the 103rd New York state Assembly district.  She is the first Nepali American to win a primary election for the New York state Assembly.

She scored a major upset over 13-term incumbent Kevin A. Cahill. She had garnered 7,702 votes to Cahill’s 7,173, according to the state Board of Elections.

She has spoken out on the issues of climate change and economic and social justice.  She has supported progressive agendas such as the New York Health Act, the Good Cause Eviction, and the Green New Deal. The Hudson Valley Chapter of the Democratic Socialists and a group called ‘For the Many’ supported Shrestha’s candidacy.

Alexandria Ocasio Cortez, a prominent US lawmaker had endorsed her candidacy. Likewise, Cynthia Nixon, a well-known American artist and rights activist, had also endorsed her candidacy.

Shrestha is also a member of the Democratic Socialist Party in the United States and co-chair of the Ulster County for the Mid Hudson Valley Chapter of the Democratic Socialist Party. She is also the leader of Coalition Public Power New York, which works to promote clean, renewable, affordable, and accessible electricity supplies.

In the New York State Assembly, each member represents approximately 130,000 residents. The term of the New York State assembly member is two years. In 2020, the Democratic primary was canceled and Kevin Cahill won the election with 51,234 votes.

Kevin had been consistently winning elections from District 103 since 2012. Prior to that, he had won from District 101 from 1998 to 2010. He had previously won the New York State Assembly from the same constituency in 1992.

“My decision to run for this office, specifically the office of the State Assembly in District 103, has always been about using every tool we’ve got, whether it’s a state office in a progressive district like ours, or conversations around the dinner table, to protect and strengthen our democracy,” Shrestha said in a statement. “To make it work for the ordinary New Yorker. Because we can no longer afford to stay lukewarm in our advocacy of issues that are affecting us. We need to step up and lead.”

“This is just the beginning,’ she added. “Next, we must build on our common ground and bring people into the right direction we need not just for the Hudson Valley, and not just for New York, but for the whole country.”

Shresta came to New York in 2001 to study as an excellent graphic designer and also advocated for democracy in Nepal. Due to the political articles published in the online literature journal run by her, the then monarchy even banned her online in Nepal. She became a U.S. citizen in 2019. She is currently a resident of Esopus.

Lately, the participation of Nepali Americans in mainstream American politics has been increasing. Harry Bhandari, a Nepali-American Maryland Delegate, has succeeded in reaching the highest position elected by the people.

Nearly 60,000 Nepalis across the United States have obtained US citizenship, according to the US Department of Homeland Security. About 15 percent of them are living in New York.

Nepali Americans, despite being a minority community, have been actively participating in US elections. The interest and participation of Nepali Americans in mainstream American politics have been growing in recent years. Nepali Americans have not only started running in the election but have also started making history by winning the election.