Emily GirschJan 1, 2018, 6:31 pmJan 2, 2018, 5:05 pm

Hoboken makes history as its first Sikh mayor is sworn into office

Mayor Ravinder Bhalla signs first Executive Order declaring city fair and welcoming to all immigrants

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HOBOKEN — Mayor Ravinder Bhalla is expanding new boundaries in the Mile Square City after being the first Sikh to hold elected office in New Jersey and, now, the first directly-elected Sikh to become mayor in the U.S.

In his inauguration ceremony Monday, U.S. Senators Robert Menendez and Cory Booker focused on diversity.

"When we are in Washington, we hear different voices. And I'm thrilled to be at home, to be in a place like Hoboken, where we reject the politics of division and intolerance and embrace the politics of inclusion and diversity in our country," Menendez said.

"You cannot lead the people if you don't love the people. This is who Ravi is. He has a love for the people and, indeed, that's what patriotism is," Booker said.

Shortly after taking oath in a private ceremony Monday morning, Bhalla got to work by signing his first executive order declaring the city of Hoboken a fair and welcoming city for all.

"This order is intended, among other things, to reflect the values of our community and to affirm our beliefs as Americans that we are all equal and entitled to dignity and respect, no matter our immigration status," Bhalla said.

Bhalla says his next plans are to tackle infrastructure problems in Hoboken, including the restoration of Washington Street, and putting an end to the annual bar hopping fundraiser of SantaCon, which resulted in 17 arrests in 2017.

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