The title of most debonair New Jersey staffer is at the verge of transitioning from longtime Pascrell deputy Assad Akhter to up-and-comer Shariq Ahmad.
A veteran of U.S. Senator Bob Menendez’s office, Amad (pictured above) just started work for newly-minted Assemblyman Rob Karabinchak (D-18) of Edison.
While with Menendez, Amad, 26, worked in the senator’s Washington D.C. legislative office on Homeland Security, Appropriations, and budget issues.
He is highly regarded in Edison and Middlesex County political circles. He serves as vice chairman of the Edison Democrats.
“We’d been trying to get him to come back home from DC for a while, but he seemed to enjoy being down there in the Senate. He’s a very talented guy, and now that we have him back, I’m proud that he’s on my team,” said Karabinchak.
According to Edison Democratic Chairman Keith Hahn, Ahmad is “a sharp, easy going guy who is not afraid of hard work. He has a great relationship with the Mayor and Council and we are happy he came home to serve the residents of the 18th District.”
Middlesex County Democratic Chairman Kevin McCabe said, “Shariq has a depth of experience on the federal, state and local levels. There is no one better equipped or experienced to help Assemblyman Karabinchek fight for the priorities of the residents of the 18th legislative district.”
Ahmad is currently the only South Asian chief-of-staff in the legislature, and is also at least the second Muslim to hold that position in the state’s history. Viewed as a leader in both communities, pushing for more outreach and political engagement on their behalf around the state, “his value to the NJ Democratic State Committee’s South Asian American Caucus is immeasurable,” said Caucus co-chair Satish Poondi, “He sits on the Board and steering committee, and is involved with organizing the South Asian American community at the State level.”
Editor’s Note: An earlier version of this story incorrectly noted that Ahmad is the first Muslim chief-of-staff in the legislature. A friendly reader pointed out that Al Barlas, who is also Muslim, has been serving as state Senator Kevin O’Toole’s chief-of-staff for years.